By Patricia Gallagher Newberry
I will not discuss the mornings I woke in a mild panic over how to keep three children occupied for the next 14 hours.
I will not mention when I started counting the days until the school bell would sound.
I will not, at this juncture, offer my argument for the one-month summer break.
Instead, I will celebrate the good times between the bickering, the snacking, the bickering, the mess-making, the bickering and the noise-making that is summer vacation.
Such as the one day, or maybe it was two, that my two girls played like friends instead of enemy combatants.
"OK, girls?" I asked suspiciously as they lugged a cooler toward the backyard blow-up pool.
"Fine, Mom. We're just having a girls' day," one replied as they both broke into a rendition of "Sisters."
Must have been the sun.
The Stepford children
And then there was the day I didn't offer correction or raise my voice or otherwise play enforcer of rules with their brother. He, in turn, played the role of Stepford Son, even as I dragged him on eight or so errands.
"Mom, I don't like this pizza," he said at one stop. "I love it!"
That would have been one of the days his sisters, otherwise known as The Competition, were at Girl Scout camp.
The girls took their turns as Stepford Daughters, as well.
The youngest perfected a new parting ritual this summer, running off to bike or play with "Love you, Mom" and blown kisses. Once, she pantomimed the message from the pool, for all of Coney Island to enjoy.
The older daughter deserves at least three awards for Performances as a Responsible, Contented Pre-Teen - one for helping her mother paint the outdoor furniture and appearing to enjoy it; one for fixing dinner at Fran's Cafe and not slugging her ill-mannered brother; and a third for inviting her mother to share a pair of earrings and a second hole in one ear.
Blot out the bad moments
And there were more moments between the mayhem worth remembering:
A 10-year-old cavorting in a 6-year-old's cheerleading outfit during a round of dress-up.
Trips to the Family Dollar store where 50 cents bought several hours of pleasure.
Bike rides that yielded new pals in the neighborhood.
Rounds of Monopoly. Rounds of Spoons. Rounds of Pictionary.
Trips down Coney's Zoom Flume, again, again and again.
Dancing to some great new birthday CDs after a great family dinner with kids on oddly great behavior.
Marathon Lego and Barbie sessions.
As for the endless hours and days between those golden moments, those are best stored in memory and then erased. Laments of "I'm bored" at 10 a.m.? Delete! Cries of "Mom" followed by long explanations about who wronged who? Bleep! Bedtimes that stretched well into adult evening time? Gone!
In their place, then, stand only the happy times of the summer now ending, including the most cherished:
Three scrubbed and smiling children in school uniforms, laden with heavy backpacks, fading in the rearview mirror as they wave the season (and their mother) farewell.
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