Gotta Catch ’em All

Summer has gotten out of hand. Trying to balance all the things that need to be done with all of Toby’s summer school responsibilities and my school work has made everything into a short, sharp series of vignettes. It’s time to do this now, okay after that it’s time to do this!

The one thing that has made everything more bearable is PokemonGo. My son loves Pokemon, we’ve been catching them all on Netflix for at least the last two years if not longer. Ash Ketchum, the protagonist, is 10 years old, a perfect role model for Toby. Honestly, the kid is a great role model. He is kind to animals (Pokemon but you get it), he has a never give up attitude, he always shows good sportsmanship whether he wins or loses, and he always gives other kids a chance to be friends.

Toby loves video games, and sometimes getting him interested in leaving the house is a challenge. PokemonGo has been a great way to entice him out to take walks. I let him use my phone, and that of course means I play overwatch, making sure that he doesn’t head out into the street or in front of other people on the trails or wherever we end up going.

What’s even more fun is my husband is also playing along. If Toby was hard to get out of the house, Luke was impossible, so this game has managed to get everyone out and about. We’ve talked to more people in the last week than we have ever, random strangers also looking at their phones and talking about Wheedles and Pidgeys.

In the past week I’ve spent more time with my friend Allie than I have in months. I’ve played a game with Toby, teaching him to pass turns and such. I’ve learned more about Pokemon than I think was possible. I’ve also walked miles of my city’s prettiest parks.

What gets me is how this game has brought my family together. Nights in the past were spent on individual devices, with the TV on in the background as we all zoned out and ignored it. I hated what was happening but I could not find a way to engage my husband and son. I appreciate that video games are their thing and not mine, but it was getting silly. Now we’re talking about Pokemon nights and making plans to go out to the parks two or three times a week.

This by itself has made my summer much better.

I am also writing my stories and books. I am working on publishing a short story through our press, Barely Salvageable. We have Hot Mess Volume 2 in the works. I’m also writing a story to try to get published through another publisher, but that’s more of a ‘let’s cross our fingers and hope’ situation. I haven’t forgotten about my novel, by the way. It’s just moving at a slower pace because I’m learning more about my writing process and that’s taking time.

I wish summer was more of a, ‘sit down and write’ time for me, but being a mother and a student and a wife, summer is more like the crazy-go-round that you can’t step off. It’s like the holidays, except that it’s three months long. So it just becomes a matter of dive in and swim, because there’s nothing else you can do.

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Cruel Summer

Now that I’m back from vacation, summer has truly set in. Toby is in summer school, so we still have a modicum of schedule to keep the house in order, but it only takes us so far. We’re left with swaths of afternoon without structure.

There’s a challenge being a parent of an only child, and that is your child looks to you not only as a parent, but as a playmate. I would like to say that Toby has plenty of friends, but they are all friends during the school year. The one friend we had outside of school had to move to Seattle, which has been difficult to cope with. I’ve had to step it up.

Today I wound up in Target for a few essentials, and as I walked through I found a couple of squirt guns. I’ve never been a fan of them, but at this point my boy needs something fun in his life. I brought them home and set them somewhere I knew he’d find them. He homed in on them like a missile. “What are these, Mom?”

I spent the afternoon getting splashed, and listening to my son laugh delightedly as we played chase and doused each other. I didn’t mind the spray. It takes some effort to get back into the kid mentality, to run like mad but not so fast you outdistance your kid. I’d prefer he had friends to play with, but that is a challenge that we didn’t expect. He has lots of little friends, but making friends with the parents has been challenging.

We are going to the Boys and Girls club on Friday, to try a new venue. Hopefully we can make a connection with some families and develop some lasting friendships. I know that I had few friends until I was older, but Toby is so much more outgoing than I ever was as a child. He makes friends; I just have to figure out how to make friends with the parents, at least to some degree.

This blog post was intended to talk about how wonky my schedule has been lately, but apparently that’s not what is highest on my mind. Toby’s lack of summer friendships has overtaken every other concern for the moment. When we get past this, we’ll be able to relax and enjoy our summer.