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The highs and lows of spring break

Day 1: School’s out!

The excitement is almost palpable as I herd my two boys into the car. Seventeen days of no school! I envision sleeping in. Lazy mornings in PJs, playing cards, board games, and watching movies. A home filled with the smell of freshly baked cookies, the sounds of little boy laughter echoing down the halls. And of course plenty of family time at my grandmother’s farm in the country.

“Look mommy! We made you spring decorations at school today!” my children exclaim. I look at the dainty painted ceramic bunny and the clay Easter eggs adoringly. Keepsake crafts forever, to be sure.

Day 3: Family time

How I love spending time on the farm away from city life for a few days. I watch from the window as my boys scamper down to the barn with their cousins, the slight chill in the air making their cheeks rosy pink.

My 5-year-old returns minutes later, covered in cow manure and mud. “Mommy I tried to jump across the puddles like everyone else but…” An hour later we emerge from the bathroom, sneakers scrubbed clean, jeans in the washing machine, my boy freshly bathed. Nothing can kill my Spring Break spirit! We join the others in the kitchen, ready for an afternoon of Easter egg dyeing. Almost as perfect as a Hallmark movie.

Day 5: How dare she!

Did my aunt really just say that? She called my boys “wiggly?” She insinuated there is something wrong with them because they ask a lot of questions! She wondered how I could stand all the little boy energy back home in our little townhouse? Doesn’t she know that boys are full of boundless energy and inquisitive thoughts? Did she really just insult the size of my house?

Day 7: Birthday party time!

I look around, torn wrapping paper, shredded bows, and goody bags filled with candy and trinkets strewn all over the living room floor of our tiny townhouse, just minutes after my son’s birthday party ends. My boys look a little dazed in all the chaos, not sure what to play with first. I vow to simplify next year.

Day 9: Dog days of Spring

The dog eats half a bag of chocolate from my son’s birthday goody bag. She throws up incessantly. With two boys and a dog, you’d better believe I have a carpet cleaner on speed dial.

Day 10: There goes my purse

The money spent in vet bills would have bought that purse I have been eyeing. But she survives. At least my son doesn’t have to live with the guilt of his birthday candy killing our dog.

Day 11: And I repeat…

“No wrestling on the bed!” “What do you mean you stepped in dog poop for the third time this week?” “Those words are not allowed!” “No running in the house!” “Don’t turn off the bathroom lights when he is in there!” “Just STOP!”

Day 12: A day of rest…er, work

“Mommy’s going to work today! Yes it’s a 24-hour shift, I’ll see you in the morning!” I hug the boys, kiss my husband goodbye, and shut the door behind me. I skip gleefully down the sidewalk toward my car. I hate 24-hour shifts. Today, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Day 13: Chaos

I am grumpy and tired after 24 hours in the hospital taking care of other people’s children. I walk into post-birthday chaos, toys strewn all over the floor of our tiny house, boys chasing each other and laughing about something only boys would think funny. I close the bedroom door behind me, only to be followed by two wiggly rambunctious rascals. How can they have so much energy? I think of my aunt.

Day 15: On my own

We have not slept past 6 a.m. in 15 days. We play our thousandth game of Uno and watch Toy Story for the tenth time. And my husband chooses day 15 to go out of town and leave me alone with the little-boy madness? I question our decision to send our children to the school with the 17-day spring break.

Day 16: Shattered

The precious handmade Easter bunny and painted eggs from 16 days ago shatter into a million pieces as the boys get a little too close to the bookshelf in their wrestling escapades. I stare at the broken ceramic, wondering if my head is going to explode into a million tiny pieces too.

Day 17: Who could ask for more?

Today I turn into the parent I never wanted to become. I lose my patience. I raise my voice too many times. Every wiggle and giggle causes me to lose another brain cell. I wish desperately for just five minutes of alone time and count the hours until the morning, when I will pull away from the school car line drop off.

But tonight, as my little boys sleep, I can’t help but sneak in their rooms and sit by their beds. My little boys, who don’t stop moving unless they are asleep, who ask a thousand inquisitive questions a day, are still and quiet and peaceful. I know in their little minds, spring break was magical, filled with laughter and fun and an abundance of time with mom and dad. And really, in spite of all the chaos, who could ask for more than that?

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About Dr. Kristie Rivers, Bundoo Pediatrician

Dr. Kristie Rivers is an Attending Physician, Assistant Medical Director of the Pediatric Hospitalist Program, and Director of Pediatric Medical Education at a children’s hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She cares for hospitalized children and also teaches pediatric residents and medical students.

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