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Happily Abnormal (Or Working On It) Author: Alyssa Lipson M.Ed

Ahhh Summer. The season kids and teachers alike dream of. The season that seems oh so far away August through April, and then all of the sudden hits us in the face with such a fury we can barely stop spinning...Okay, maybe that is just how teacher/parents feel. But listen up y'all, the struggle is definitely real. My kids have already eaten me out of this weeks budget worth of food and it is only Wednesday. And the fighting. Ohhh the fighting. At school, I am a mediator. I am a counselor. I am a confidant. I listen and I help students be their best, emotional selves. In fact, there is an entire block of time each week dedicated to teaching my students about their emotions and how to handle them. At home? During the summer? I am a messy-bun wearing, crazed, heavily caffeinated, insane person. How many times have I said so far this summer (it's been 3 days, BTW) "Well, you probably deserved it" or "I SWEAR TO EVERYTHING GOOD IF YOU ASK ME FOR ONE MORE THING TO EAT I AM LOCKING MYSELF IN THE BATHROOM!" or "I honestly don't care if your brother hit you. Hit him back."

I think one of the biggest reasons for my love-hate relationship with summer is that our routine is totally jackknifed. For 9 months there are rules. There are expectations. There is sanity. Once summer hits, all bets are off.

I remember one particular story that occurred in 2019. It was a Monday evening at about 5:00. After my kids had asked me over 100 times for a "snack", I decided I would just start dinner. Once I started, my oldest rode his bike to a friend's house up the street and my two youngest kiddos went next door to play with their neighbor friends. I reminded them all to be back home by 6:00. It was peaceful. It was quiet. I took my time and cooked the chicken, sautéed the broccoli, made the rice. I listened to some music, made an uninterrupted phone call, and even went to the bathroom in solidarity. I was probably living every SAHM's dream- shoutout to you all, by the way, you are the REAL MVP's! After about 45 minutes I was ready to serve dinner. I made up everyone's plates, set them out, and then made my plate. By this time it was 6:00. And no one was home. So, I decided to wait. At 6:05, still no one was home, so I decided I was going to eat. I felt almost uncomfortable eating by myself- one of the rules in my family is that we all eat together. Then, I went really crazy. I broke another rule- I pulled out my phone WHILE I WAS EATING, and played Wordscapes while shoveling teriyaki chicken into my mouth...If my husband or kids would have seen me at this point they probably would have been staring, open-mouthed at me, as I broke one of my biggest household rules- NO electronics at the dinner table. But, guess what...I broke the rules, and nothing happened...

At this point I started thinking about why I had created these rules for my family. One big rule- Eat as a family. Another big rule- No electronics, whatsoever at the table. Why had I decided those were important to me? Was it really me who decided they were important? Or was it the expectation of what a "good family" does that drove my decision?

While I was growing up, it was just me and my mom. We ate together because we were all we had. Since it was just her and me, I was able to help her decide what we were having for dinner. I