Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Girding for Battle (or, It’s Time for Summer Vacation)

Yikes.  It’s that time again – the time when teachers cackle joyfully as they send our children back to us parents for 2-1/2 months.  It’s summer vacation.  Moms and dads are shuddering. 

I’m pulling together the summer readiness kit and kidding myself I’ll have a handle on these ‘carefree’ days barreling at me like a runaway locomotive.  Let me have my fantasy that I’m ready for this.  My peace of mind will be over all too soon. 

So what’s in the kit?  Let’s have a look:

1.  Educational workbooks.   

All the experts say that over the summer, children should continue to review the skills they’ve learned throughout the school year.  I have dutifully purchased books designed by the finest educators that will ensure my son will give me a hurt look when I bring them out.  “But it’s vacation! There’s no homework on vacation!”  Sure there is, because I said so.  This is the part where he grumbles and casts threatening expressions worthy of a steroid-crazed defensive back in my direction while I pretend I don’t notice and try to get some writing done. 

Expected duration of this summer activity: one week before the books are cleverly hidden by Kiddo in a place where I can’t find them.

2.  Craft projects. 

I love crafts.  My son sort of loves crafts.  More accurately, he loves tape.  Taping things together is a fetish of his.  We buy Scotch tape by the gross.  Bulk boxes of transparent adhesive are our main reason for having a Sam’s Club membership.  Drawings get taped together into posters the length of football fields, toys that weren’t meant to attach get taped together because Kiddo is creative that way, and tape is crushed into ball shapes because that’s fun to throw around and usually doesn’t result in destruction.  The furniture gets taped, the floors get taped, I get taped, you get taped, we all get taped...there’s tape everywhere in my house.  If you visit us, you will leave our home with nice new sticky soles on your shoes, soles made of tape.  At least you’ll never slip. 

Expected duration of this summer activity: It’s been going on forever, so we’re looking at infinity as far as the tape is concerned.  As far as other crafts, I’ll doggedly insist on doing those until the day I realize I’m gluing popsicle sticks all by myself and Kiddo has been playing video games for the last two hours. 

3.  Board games 

If it’s got dice, Kiddo will like it for just long enough to get halfway through a game.  Then he’s done.  Unless we’re playing Yahtzee.  When it comes to Yahtzee, he’ll like it just long enough to get halfway through the game and then all he’ll want to do is shake the dice nonstop in that loud cup.  If you’ve ever played Yahtzee, you know how earsplitting that becomes after the first round of turns.  Seriously, is there anything louder than those five dice rattling around in that damned cup??? 

Expected duration of this summer activity: Ten minutes and then Mommy has to take an aspirin and lie down.

4. The Beach Bag

Ah, can there be anything more relaxing?  Lying on a chair beneath an umbrella, a cooler full of drinks at your side, a good book, the child building sand castles... 

In a fantasy I had once, maybe.  No, not in this family.  Two seconds after arriving at the beach:  Kiddo is already in the water up to his chest (because he refuses to acknowledge he doesn’t know how to swim yet).  I haven’t even put down the cooler and chairs.  Everything is dumped quickly, so that the child can be fetched and dragged yelling back to our stuff.  Said stuff is now covered in sand because the tote fell over and puked everything out. Now there will be no sand-free towels with which to dry ourselves, and we will carry half the beach home in the SUV.  I will be sunburned because Kiddo thinks running two miles nonstop with me huffing after him and sweating off my sunscreen is great. He will be sunburned because apparently the sunscreen has a liberal amount of holy water in it, making my beloved demon scream and run away before successfully applied.  The book will go unread and perhaps missing.  The cooler will turn out to be empty because Son of Mine has taken out all the water and uncapped every last bottle to take one freaking sip apiece.  Then he'll cast the bottle away, uncapped, so as to water the sand in hopes that a lovely oasis will spring up.  Perhaps it's an effort to attract Arabs with camels to southeast Georgia. By the end of our beach excursion, I will have yelled no less than one hundred times at him to not go so deep into the ocean and panicked half that amount because I’m convinced he’s going to drown.  Good times, good times. 

Duration of this summer activity:  At least once a week all summer because I will continuously develop amnesia and think THIS time it will be fun.

5.  First Aid Supplies 

Lots and lots of first aid supplies.  No need to ask why:  he’s an eight-year-old boy.

6. Alcohol 

Lots and lots of alcohol, swigged liberally after Kiddo’s bedtime. No need to ask why:  I’m the mother of an eight-year-old boy.

7.  Tablet 

This is my son’s favorite thing in the whole world.  If left to his own devices, he would spend every waking minute on the tablet playing games.  This is not good for him to do, but Mommy needs the occasional break.  Of course there will arrive that magic moment when all my good intentions and parenting know-how will crumble to dust.  I will wear down.  I will start the summer allowing an hour a day on the tablet as a reward for not making me tear all of my hair out.  Then I’ll realize how far behind I am with my writing deadlines and let Kiddo have an entire afternoon here and there.  Then I’ll need that whole day when I simply can’t bear to argue.  You see where this is going. 

Duration of this summer activity:  Small amounts to begin with, then by the last three weeks the tablet will appear to be permanently fused to Kiddo’s hands.  He will begin second grade pasty and white, like some forgotten creature from the bowels of the Earth that has never seen the sun. 

When does school start again?

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