We moms have different ways of handling the educationally damaging, expensive exercise in gender role manipulation known as “summer break.” My favored method is the “keep the critters occupied and out of my hair” program known as “camp.” Actually, “camps.” Back in my critter days, we were signed up for a camp. It occurred every day, lasted all day, and ran for eight weeks. But that apparently did not adequately deter women from pursuing meaningful careers, so the eight-week, every-day, all-day camp morphed into the half-day camp-for-a-week-if-you’re-lucky variety. So the “keep the critters busy” plan is a monumental organizational challenge. Luckily, women multi-task well. All the books say so.
After five weeks of summer, my ten-year-old has attended many field trips; performed in a musical; whupped other children in games of numbers, patterns, and strategy; written, directed, starred in, and filmed her own movie; and mastered the art of public speaking. My fourteen-year-old spent the last five weeks in an intensive course in Argument and Debate at a local college. (Everyone asks, “WHY would you want to teach a teenager how to ARGUE?” It’s a valid question. Of course she already knew how to argue, but now she knows how to argue with facts.)
My summer days have involved chasing the children through their morning routines, forgetting to eat breakfast, writing and/or editing at ye olde coffee shop all morning, running errands, and writing and or/editing at home in the afternoon until it’s time to pick up the ten-year-old. All of which I could’ve done without sending the children to any camps, I guess. But if they were home, I would have to forcibly drag them outside and demand that they enrich or at least exhaust themselves in some way, lest I be charged with neglect when their pale forms were discovered, frozen into couch-sitting shapes. And then how much work would I get done?
So, it has been a productive summer thus far. All of my clients are reasonably happy with me. My kids still have some semblance of cognitive functioning. And I’ve earned almost enough money to pay for all the camps.
Next year, I may just throw them in the van and go on a road trip.