If you immediately started singing the lyrics to that song you’re either a George Gershwin fan, over the age of 50 or a fan of every reality singing competition ever made. Countless hopeful starlets have destroyed this classic tune in the hopes of becoming the winner of America’s Next Top Voice Talent X Factor Idol.
Much to my chagrin, this has also become the theme song to my son’s 12th summer. While I’m in favor of letting my children relax and enjoy the fruits of their educational labor, there’s got to be some balance. Unfortunately, we’re having trouble finding that right now.
In May, when the school year ended, my children had very different reactions. My daughter, Katie, who thrives on schedules, social interaction and a structured learning environment, responded by hugging her best friend a little too tightly, crying real tears and refusing to clean anything out of her backpack because, “Mama, I might neeeeed that bit of torn construction paper or crayon nubbins for something.”
My son, on the other hand, probably kicked the school door open with one foot and swaggered through the parking lot with both hands above his head in the “rock on” position. Actually I KNOW that’s what he did, because I was there.
Before school officially let out, before the kids were actually home every day, before I started the summertime balancing act of work, kids, hustling for more work and kids again, I had wonderful ideas about how we’d spend these three months of sunshiney bliss. Delusions of grandeur, one might say.
Art Museum – Yes! We’ll tour the facility and speak openly about our feelings on abstract versus realism.
The Zoo – Yes! A family favorite. We’ll ride the tram, feed the goats (those little maniacs) and see the all the beautiful creatures God created so they could sit behind wire fences for our gawking pleasure.
Road trips – Absolutely. Let’s hit the highway and see things we’ve never seen. Go places we’ve never been. We’ll take pictures in front of large balls of twine and eat at roadside diners where the apple pie slices are as thick as my thighs and all the waitresses have pencils behind their ears and call us, “honey” or “sugar.”
Let’s do ALL OF THE THINGS, we cried. Then, reality set in. Kids: “The museum is too boring. It’s too hot for the zoo. Let’s go on vacation.” Parents: “Sorry, kids. The family truckster is on its last leg, we can’t put miles on Daddy’s work truck and oh by the way, there’s no money for vacation.”
So, now we’re doing the best we can to try and entertain on a shoestring budget. Katie is really the only one who feels the pinch. If she had her wish, she would be scheduled with camps, plays, summer school, movies, art classes and nature walks from sun up till sun down. If they had SAT Prep courses for 8 year olds, she’d be there in the front row. She wants to be busy. She craves it . Jacob on the other hand. . .
On the first day of summer, my son informed me that the only thing he wanted to do was stay up late, sleep in, “eat fun things,” and play Minecraft. Well, he wasn’t exaggerating. That truly is ALL he wants to do. I’m not a complete pushover, I do make the child eat more than “fun things” stick to a reasonable bedtime schedule and do chores but it’s not without angst. Calling him up out of the basement to take a break from Minecraft is like summoning a surly tween demon who smells faintly of Cheetos.
When I told him his time spent on Minecraft was excessive and he needed to round out his summertime activities he responded by giving me a 10 minute rebuttal about how it actually does engage his mind because he’s currently working on a “mod” that will allow him to create a fake Herobrine that he can play on the server he installed that will both creep out and impress his friends, especially when they come across the diamond mine he made with the sign that says, “The diamonds are fake.” If you understood any of that, I’m guessing you’re also a Minecrafter and you may smell faintly of Cheetos too.
So, that’s our summer, so far, in a nutshell. It’s not the one we wanted but it’s the one we’re dealing with. Thankfully, the pool is up now so that gives us another option. Our inflatable circle of backyard aquatic fun is always a good time.
Parents! If you’re also in a staycation situation, what are you doing to keep the kids happy, busy and out of juvenile hall?