Ready or not, summer break is right around the corner. While my kids for have been counting down the days left of school for weeks, if not months, I’m a tad more ambivalent about the 12 weeks of summer that lie ahead.
Okay, I’ll be honest. I try to put summer vacation out of my mind until the very last moment, like the first day of summer break. That’s when I wake up and, instead of shuttling everyone off to school before settling down in my quiet, peaceful basement office for a long stretch, breaking only for a quick lunch where I feed just myself, I rise to find my children assuming it’s okay to lounge around all day and wait for me to feed them breakfast, or watch Sports Center for hours on end, or bicker with one another—just because.
This behavior drives me to the breaking point by about day three, whereas my husband, who has off most of the summer, possesses a Zen-like ability to tune out completely the alternate chaos and slovenliness surrounding him. While my husband taps at his computer or reads the paper in apparent peace and solitude, I play the role of drill sergeant. Out of my mouth spews a tirade that, by summer’s end, becomes like a repetitive news feed that goes something like this, in no particular order: You’re old enough to make yourself breakfast. Get out of your pajamas; it’s noon. No electronics before you read something. Stop bickering. Make yourself useful. Do something. Generally, my rant falls on deaf ears.
Maybe I’m just too uptight. But I can’t help but think that lots of other mothers feel the same way I do. Maybe they just forget what summer vacation is like until they’re in the thick of it. Case in point: Over the past month, I’ve overheard more mothers than I can count on two hands gush about how happy they’ll be not to rise early and make lunches for school come summertime. But here’s the thing they fail to remember: They’ll still be making lunches—whether they’re packing them for the beach, the pool, or summer camp—unless their kids are being shipped off to “residential” camp for the summer. And if the kids are at home, the refrigerator becomes a revolving door that opens and shuts innumerable times throughout the day. Makes morning lunch-packing seem like a picnic.
Here’s another irony of summer. As much as kids anticipate it, they tend to grow tired of it well before it’s wrapped up. I asked a friend of my son’s if he’d be returning to the camp he’d attended with his older brother the summer before. Nah, he said. Doing the same thing every day got boring after the first week, he observed.
While it takes most kids more than a week to get bored with summer, it definitely happens. As excited as they are to see their summer swim buddies in June, by August the pool looks like a ghost town. So too do most neighborhoods. And slathering on sunscreen before hitting the beach, once again, starts to feel like an incredible drag. I guess that’s a good thing.
Kids have got to get good and bored before they’ll admit they’re ready to go back to school. Not me. Come September I’ll have been ready, lunch-packing and the rest of it, to greet the new academic year with open arms.
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