This is something we all understand on a visceral level, right? Common sense tells us that children are expensive. However, it is a self-evident truth we can easily overlook at times—particularly in the carefree, lazy days of summer when hours are filled with free trips to the park and free swimming in the local wading pools and free dips in the lake. Kids freely ride their bikes up and down the sidewalks. Parks host free movie nights. Friends invite us to barbecues with nothing more than a bag of chips as an entrance fee. Summer means long days when our children are entertained by catching frogs in the backyard. Days when that cheap staple—hot dogs—becomes the mainstay of our seasonal diets. Days when a 99₵ cone from McDonalds is heaven on Earth. Kids are relatively inexpensive in the summer. Cheap entertainment abounds.
But fear not! If you have managed to lose sight of the fact that the little people who have taken up residence in your house are sucking you dry, summer is almost over. Back-to-school time is upon us, and it fully intends to beat us over the heads with a healthy dose of reality. I was beaten this week and, frankly—despite my S& M leanings (Ha! I kid.)—I didn’t enjoy it so much.
Lucas, who happens to be ten years old and has not even entered puberty yet, has grown two inches this summer. Two inches! It doesn’t sound like much, but we aren’t even in August yet. That’s an inch a month! If he is growing at that rate at ten years old, what the hell is going to happen the summer between ninth and tenth grades? You remember that summer, don’t you? The one where the skinny little boys you grew up beating the shit out of showed up at school on the first day sounding like James Earl Jones and looking like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Lucas’ voice isn’t changing yet, but he is growing at an unsustainable rate. If he continues at this rate, I fully expect him to reach Incredible Hulk proportions by mid-winter.
Near the end of school last year, I bought Lucas several new pairs of jeans. His had become a bit short. He already wears glasses, has flat feet and possesses an unusually vigorous penchant for regurgitating trivial facts to the uninterested masses. The least we can do for the boy is buy him jeans that reach below his ankles. Yesterday, having not yet realized that Lucas had grown two inches, I had him try on his jeans from last year in preparation for school. He had exactly one pair of jeans that fit him. One. As opposed as I am to doing laundry—I am not above wearing a pair of jeans more than once before washing them—even my lazy ass knows that one pair of jeans is not going to cut it for fifth grade.
And it’s not just the jeans! Being rather eager beaver moms, Ruanita and I have already bought all of the kids’ school supplies. The minute I saw those 17₵ crayons show up at Target, I was doing my happy dance (which bears a freaky resemblance to Elaine Benes of Seinfeld fame) in the school supply aisle. So this past Friday, all five of us schlepped to Target with lists in hand and raided the school supply section. With three kids, we easily filled our cart to the brim with notebooks and folders and Crayola markers and red ball-point pens and Ticonderoga-brand pencils (their lists were quite brand-specific, so no Up and Up pencils for us). When all was said and done, we forked over $150+ on those 17₵ crayons and such.
But we were not done. After Target, we headed over to Famous Footwear. All three children needed new tennis shoes for school. The Crocs they live in all summer long simply wouldn’t cut it in gym class. After trying on every single pair of shoes in the store, Lucas settled on a pair of New Balance shoes with a toggle cord (he doesn’t like shoelaces). The twins both chose Nikes in trite gender-appropriate hues of pink and blue. One men’s size 6 ½ and two big kids’ size 1 ½. If their shoe size is any indication of their future heights, I am going to have a successful college basketball team on my hands in about ten or eleven years. Then again, neither of my boys possess a single ounce of athletic ability, so in reality, I will probably just have a band of mutants on my hands rather than a basketball team. Maybe I will invest in some cool spandex suits and we can hit the road as an alternative to the X-Men. The world can always use another band of geeky masked crusaders.
But I digress.
The point of this blog is that children are expensive. Crazy expensive. Sometimes, when I am alone and naked in the shower (the only time I am alone—even the toilet is not sacred around here!) I think about all the pretty things I could buy if I had decided to be one of those hip, childless lesbians. All of the cool shoes I would own. All of the electronics I would have. I could even have cable. Freaking HBO! I could travel. I could see exotic places like India and China and Morocco and Branson, Missouri. I could spend weekends up north at the cabinI would inevitably own. I could go see a movie on a whim. I could eat in restaurants that do not even have chicken fingers on the menu. My life would be awesome!
If truth be told, I really don’t like the quiet. I prefer noise. I like the bustle. I thrive on the constant activity. I like the sound of my children playing in the next room. I love to hear their laughter. I adore their hugs and kisses. I don’t even mind watching Phineas and Ferb over and over and over again. I am madly in love with our little family of five. Stupidly, inexplicably, madly in love.
Looks like I am destined to be poor.
Kind of sucks, huh?