The Great Flood of 2017
This time last year I wrote a post about how I don’t have the same emotions about kids going back to school that many parents seem to have. I don’t get all weepy about my kids getting all grown up and independent, but I also don’t get all excited about getting rid of them for another school year. My point was that I like being able to do things with my kids when they’re home, and I also like being able to get things done when they’re not home, so having them head off to school isn’t some great emotional moment for me either way. It’s both good and bad, and I don’t get too stressed about it.
This year, however, I must confess that I’m teetering toward the side of excited about having them going back. It’s been a long summer. Besides the regular bickering and complaining (which is absolutely par for the course), we’ve had more than our share of craziness. I’ve already written about the ball through the window incident and the lice outbreak and the lost child at the CNE trauma. That’s a summer’s worth right there, and I didn’t get around to writing the half of it.
Then, this past week, I was having a meeting with a client. My youngest two were tearing around causing chaos, so when they asked to go have a bath, I told them to go for it. It was blessedly quiet for fifteen minutes, and I was actually getting somewhere in my meeting, when water starts dripping from the ceiling. A puddle quickly began forming on the dining room floor, just two feet from my client’s chair.
“Could you… give me a moment?” I asked, and then I booked it up the stairs three at a time. The bathroom floor was covered in water. The lowest corner was a full three inches deep, and more was pouring over the edge all the time. Far from stopping the water, my kids were using their bath toys to steer it in particular directions, creating little waterfalls down the side of the tub.
“Look, Dad!” my youngest said. “The water is on the whole bathroom floor!”
“Yes,” I agreed, “and also on the whole dining room floor.” My volume was low for the sake of my client, but I’m pretty sure my tone managed to convey the level of my displeasure.
It took a full twenty minutes to mop up the disaster and clothe the kids. My eldest very helpfully took care of the water in the dining room. My client very tactfully suggested that we could maybe address the remaining details by email. I very deliberately found play dates for the youngest two while I assessed the damage.
In the end, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There was no electrical damage, and the plaster was only badly soaked in an area that needed to be fixed up anyway. We actually got off pretty easy with respect to house repairs.
With respect to my psychology, however, The Great Flood of 2017 (as we’ve taken to calling it) was a kind of tipping point. For the first time as a parent I ever found myself thinking, “Thank God school starts in a few days.” It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my time together with the kids over the summer (because I did), and it’s not that I won’t miss having them around once school actually begins (because I will), but I think my mental health will welcome the vacation come 9:00 AM on Tuesday morning.
Luke has been the parent of birth kids, adoptive kids, foster kids, and just-need-a-place-to-stay kids for fourteen years. He’s had experience with kids in homeschool, public schools, and alternative schools. He’s been a teacher, a camp counselor, and a coach. He’s also taught parenting courses for Children’s Aid for almost a decade. When he isn’t working with kids, he’s a writer, a publisher, and the director of a non-profit organization that supports book culture.