Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Twenty-One Days

(This picture doesn't have anything to do with the following post, but I like a colorful blog, don't you?)

School starts three weeks from today.

Further proof that God is good.

I have an older friend, in her mid-seventies, who raised three children. She claims that at the beginning of every summer she went to the doctor and updated her Valium prescription. This is how she survived the months from June to September.

If medication stronger than Ibuprofin didn't send me into a deep slumber, a prescription for sedatives would be quite the summertime temptation.

All my conversations with other parents the last month have primarily concerned the wonders of year-round schooling. Even Amy, who homeschools. We all wonder if our friend, Danielle, is privately gloating. Her kids are in year-round school. She's been a free woman (other than the lunch-making, the car-pooling, the dragging unwilling children out of bed thing) since July 18th.

It's not the lack of freedom that concerns me, actually. When my children are being cheerful and lovely, it's a pleasure to have them around. They amuse themselves, read, talk on the phone with friends. They say funny things and ask interesting questions. When I take the dog on a walk, they want to go with me and chat about the wonders of our neighborhood.

The problem is, they've been cranky since July 5th. They've broken out in fist fights in the aisles of Target. They've sulked about being taken on nature hikes ("It's too hot!" "I'm tired!), bickered about who gets to use the Scooby-Doo towel, and generally made life miserable for everyone in a five-mile radius.

Summer vacation is a nice idea in theory, but it doesn't work all that well in practice. Maybe for three weeks. It really goes downhill after July 4th. The kids miss their routine. Even with daily trips to the pool and an expanded chore list, there's not enough for them to do. It is the curse of the non-farming middle class. Where is the meaningful work for kids?

Lately, the Man and I have taken to torturing the kids with back-to-school talk. They make faces, act like they can't stand the thought. But I remember back in the day, how right around the beginning of August, I started looking forward to the first day of school. It was the true beginning of the new year, a chance to start over, an opportunity to invest in that most wonderful of investments--new school supplies. I loved arranging them just-so on the floor of my bedroom.

Was my mother's step a little lighter, too? Her countenance more cheerful? Did she take frequent breaks from washing dishes or making the beds to rub her hands with glee? Being a child, I was too self-centered to notice. But now, a mother myself, I'm pretty sure I know the answer.

Twenty-one days. The only question is, will I survive them?


Pom Pom said...

So funny, Frances! Maybe my students are ready, too. I hope so. They are SO bleary eyed that first week. They are quiet and behave themselves. I must remember this and plan to savor it. Truthfully, I could take a few more months of summer since we start school so early and crispy autumn mornings are so far in the distance. Maybe I should have worked a summer job so I'd have some extra money for new school clothes. You gave me a great idea. I am going to have the eighth graders lay out all their lovely supplies on their desks and then I am going to take pictures so I can show them the pictures later when their lockers are full of old lunches and sweatshirts and they don't have anything to write with in writing class.

Tracy said...

When my children discovered that their cousins, at the 6 week mark, still have 5 weeks of holidays left they were gobsmacked. And declared that to be the most awful thing to befall a child.

My kids are all happy to go back to school after a mere 6 weeks of summer holiday. I woulnd't mind one extra week....we spend half of our time away camping. One week between coming home and returning to work just isn't *quite* enough. So I head back to work and my kids hang out and play with the other staff kids until school start properly. They like the idea of getting out of the house and talking to people who have a different surname to ours!

magsmcc said...

Mrs Pom Pom sent me here. I have a note to prove it! May I sit at the back? I'll be late into the term as we don't start back until a week after you but I'll copy up everything I will have missed!

Gumbo Lily said...

I just bought two back-to-school supplies: a alt-down mattress topper for my college boy who hates the beds at the campus apartments, and some pens for my senior homeschool boy.

I like summer. I like the break from homeschooling, but I always look forward to the routine that school brings to my home. Since we are ranchers, the kids have lots to do. If we didn't have work here, we'd send them to town, to golf courses to get jobs.


wayside wanderer said...

This summer has zipped by for us and I recently realized that my 13 and 14 year olds have been getting along fairly well...something out of the norm in recent yaers. I think hormones have played a big part of it!

My son is teaching himself guitar and even though the sound of it is driving me cRaZy (electric guitar no less) I've endured quietly because he is actually doing something constructive.

If I weren't the teacher I would be looking forward to school, too. :)

Ali said...

We are at the mid-point. Don't know about them, but the lack of routine and meaningful work is making me a little cranky.

I smell Autumn on the breeze too.

Dulce Domum said...

How many weeks of summer holidays do y'all (see what I did there?) get?

We only do between five and seven weeks. My lot have got five weeks this year, it doesn't seem enough.

Angela said...

No wonder the parents are all so grateful to us when we run Holiday Bible Club [VBS] for a week inthe middle of the holidays!

But HOW LONG do you get? I think I prefer the British system!