Our version of Bedford Falls enjoys beautiful, long and mild springs. Here spring fever is an alluring bedfellow and we bask in it.
But then our spring tires of us, becomes crabby and transforms into a vengeful summer.
Summer here is h-o-t.
For our grown up residents who tend to be tucked into climate controlled offices, our main coping strategy is complaining about said heat. This works pretty well, as our preheating oven is always a reliable topic of discussion and allows for a mutually agreed upon and non-threatening airing of collective grievances.
But my children have different strategies for summer survival. These techniques may be bewildering, but they are also endearing and so delightfully creative they are very worth sharing.
Strategy 1: Denial (aka ‘Heat, what heat?’)
From an early age, Prima and Secondo were masters of denial, particularly when it came to things they simply did not care to do. Think: helping to clean up the Legos strewn all over the playroom floor, brush their teeth, do their math homework and comb their knotty bird’s nest hair. This strategy is mainly manifested in temporary and selective hearing impairment.
However, when it comes to sweat season, they employ it in a new way: “Mom, it’s not too hot, let’s go swimming!” “Mom, it’s not too hot, let’s pile in the car and drive across town to the mall!”
Modern Mary typically believes it is, actually, too hot, as walking into the mall my Havianas melt sickly onto the asphalt. Furthermore, I have somewhat limited interest in sitting in triple-digit heat while they cavort for hours in double-digit warm pool water.
And yet. This is a effective strategy as it plays on that sweet spot for all kids — mother’s guilt — to help them achieve just what it is they want.
Strategy 2: The Freezer (aka ‘My personal air conditioner’)
If you are a parent with a freezer you have walked into your kitchen during warm weather only to find your child either: wedged halfway in and halfway out of the freezer, curled up next to the door or: standing with the door swung wide enough to welcome a herd of elephants, their face jammed between frozen corn and fish sticks, breathing in the cool.
I certainly have.
When loudly and resoundingly scolded, both my little darlings have turned to look at me with looks of complete bewilderment. Then their rosebud lips form the words, “But, I’m hot” in such a duh-implied-matter-of-fact tone it makes me dizzy.
But being as good at consistent scolding as Mr. Bailey and I are, Secondo has come up with a more agreeable approach to freezer (aka personal AC unit) management.
She recently walked into the kitchen with the tired, pale pink and slowly disintegrating blanket she’s had since she was a baby (its name, in case you were wondering is “Pretty”) and proceeded to shove it into the freezer, slam the door shut and walk out.
Sitting at the counter during this display, I turned to Mr. Bailey and inquired.
“Oh,” he said, without lifting his eyes from his phone, “she puts her Pretty in the freezer now. Then she takes it out and cuddles with it. She says it helps cool her down. It’s kind of brilliant, actually.”
I had to smile, impressed. And award big points for creativity.
It surely saves energy.
Plus, it never fails to bust my guts when I open the freezer to defrost a salmon filet and find a lonely baby blanket shoved between the Popsicles and chicken breasts.
Strategy 3: Can we freeze it?
In addition to the Pretty (which doesn’t actually freeze), Prima and Secondo spend the summer months conducting any number of experiments loosely titled, “Can we freeze it?”
Half eaten sundaes, oranges, mangos, melon, chocolate milk, strawberries crushed in milk, melted ice cream, and nearly finished smoothies are the usual suspects. But they’ve also been known to freeze glasses of water, trays of water, cookie sheets of water, spoons of water, soda pop, water bottles, tea pots of water, orange juice, lemonade, iced tea, snow from last winter once half defrosted, and mysterious liquid concoctions of their own devising.
I discover most of these experiments as murky puddles slowly but stubbornly sinking into the wood of our butcher block island.
But it makes a hot July day cooped up in the house go by, so there’s that upside.
(By the way, their fave frozen item is and will always be frozen green grapes. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out.)
Whatever their strategy, their adaptable and creative minds inspire me to endure the last month of summer with hopeful aplomb.
And reach past the Pretty for the peas.