Summer is almost over and all my kids have to show for it are thick calluses on the tips of their fingers from all the tap-tap-tapping on one screen or another. If the first day of school begins with their teachers asking for an essay titled, “What I Did On My Summer Vacation,” theirs would be lame indeed.
I live in a community with a tax base largely supported by SAT prep shops, supplemental mathnasiums, and preschools with names like “La Petite Académie” where toddlers learn to speak French and play the violin. Summers for our little geniuses are supposed to be for extra-curricular enrichment or at the very least, for attending the summer camp in Maine where generations of one’s family learned to sail and ride horses while wearing the expensive togs designed for such activities.
Alas, not for my cherubs. They got stuck with a mother who never grew up in the New England tradition of taking out a second mortgage to pay for summer camp. In addition, I’m too exhausted after the school year ends to continue schlepping the tykes to classes, lessons, or museum visits. The stamina required to get through the end-of-year recitals, graduations, and sports tournaments is mind-boggling, and when the last kid takes the last bow at the last concert in June, I’m already sunk halfway into my own summer coma.
So, what did my kids do this summer? In no particular order, they:
- Became even more proficient at the game of Minecraft (who knew it was possible?)
- Played hours and hours of Bridge – some with their grandparents, but when grandparents weren’t available, with the computer
- Watched mindless TV – the truly mindless crap that passes for programming on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon
- Showered every few days – I think this happened more often than not, but to be honest I didn’t pay much attention
- Fed the pets and walked the dog only when harassed to do so by a parent
- Went to a YMCA day camp where they played games in the hot sun, caught frogs in the mud, and didn’t learn a single thing about math
- Committed to and then abandoned an exercise regimen
- Ate their body weights in strawberries, peaches and watermelon
- Barely looked up from their screens to see their mother hauling garbage bags, heavy with peach pits and watermelon rinds, out to the trash bin (on the plus side, I squeezed in some light cardio)
- Slept in later and later each morning, ensuring that their eventual return to the school schedule will be as painful as possible
- Discovered the wicked humor of Carl Hiaasen, thanks to paperbacks renewed over and over again from the local public library
That’s their essay. No thesis, no theme, and no high-level strategy – just a laundry list of what happened next. Nothing about this summer was planned more than 15 minutes in advance (except the YMCA camp, and only because the bus fills up and NO WAY was I going to chauffeur them out to that distant campground every morning). Any written testament to the last two months would be as rambling and aimless as summer itself.
But that’s OK. Other kids can go back to school and write about performing Shakespeare at their fine arts camp in the Adirondacks, or taking a Chinese immersion course at a local university. They can write their whole essays in Chinese for all I care.
What really matters is that our entire family is finally relaxed. We shifted into lower gear and laid low for a while, theoretically storing energy for the fall the way squirrels hoard nuts for the winter. We’ll see how it all works out when the alarm goes off way too early on September 8.