Nancy Tandon: Prepared or Unprepared?
From: Out to Play
July 12, 2012 at 06:40AM
My 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Williams, took attendance by barking our last names, then asking, “prepared or unprepared?” You were to answer “prepared” if you had done last night’s homework, or studied the topic at hand, or completed a project. All others were to answer, “unprepared.”
I was 1) a nerd and 2) really afraid of Mr. Williams, so I always answered “prepared.” The kids who were brave enough to answer “unprepared” were met with his steely glare, but then he would nod and move along to the next name. The worst was if you said prepared, but were later outed as unprepared. He had no tolerance for that, and vengeance was swift. No one left that class with any doubt that honesty is the best policy.
When my kids got off the bus on the last day of school, I was excited for summer. I was prepared. We had camps lined up, outings planned, berries to pick, and swim lessons to enjoy. Summertime and the livin’ is easy was playing in a loop in my brain.
It took just a few days of heat, humidity, and togetherness to change that tune to Crazy Train. One moment, the kids are bickering like cranky old men, and the next they are cheering as both sets of ears hear the ice cream truck. Parenting in the summer can be blissful and frenetic, all in the same day. A few weeks in, I’m finally willing to admit: I was unprepared. Unprepared for the incredible longing I feel for a moment alone. Unprepared to play so many games of Battleship, all in a row. Unprepared to just let go and see where the day takes us.
Maybe that’s the best way to approach summer. With a little less structure and a little more flow. A little more ice cream for lunch and a little less schedule. That way, when the natives get restless, I can get restless right along with them, and set off for an adventure that no one prepared for, just for the fun of seeing what happens.
Sorry, Mr. Williams, but when it comes to parenthood, my answer is: unprepared!