Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer Plans or not

School ends in exactly 3 full days, two half days, one field trip to Angel Island (which needs drivers) and one extra half day of 8th grade graduation for which one child attends the graduation ceremony (playing the role of "audience") and the other child is already finished and stays home with me. Said more succinctly, my life takes on a new rhythm in exactly one week from today as the crow flies. I am not uber excited about this.

I am a bona fide staunch believer in the concept of year-round school. It's not that I don't like having my kids around - - cause I sure do. I postulate (with a higher than average degree of certainty) that I'm far from alone in this. In individual conversations with friends, we lament the same thing secretly together. We all love our children. We just have an issue with having them around for ELEVEN SEEMINGLY ENDLESS CONSECUTIVE weeks in a row. What is the US school system thinking? I pay my school taxes and yet, I am punished. Not fair. I am sorely missing the European / International school schedule that we had become accustomed to. While it is not technically year-round (which I have to believe is the capital standard of all learning curriculum) - it does have a much nicer (meaning longer) school year. Start in late August. Finish in late June.

This does not mean that the kids go to school any more days than they do here. It's just that the breaks are more frequent and spaced out over the year. Believe me you, it is FAR easier to plan something to keep them occupied during a two week break than it is to navigate the quilt work of summer camps and special programs that are necessarily woven together for most families to easily navigate ELEVEN WEEKS of summer.

Now lest someone I know call me on the carpet for this post, I willingly confess that I send my boys to camp for 5 of those weeks. Yes, I pack them up and ship them off to the wilds of New Hampshire from mid July to mid August. They have a great time. I have a great time. I write to them. They occasionally write to me. I get pictures of them every day. I miss them. They miss me. But over all, it is an exceptional experience for both parent and child. Given that they are gone for the lion's share of those ELEVEN CONSECUTIVE WEEKS - what's all the whinging about?

Hmmm. That's easy math. There's still SIX WEEKS left to fill. Part of me thinks that I should just let them be. Sort of a return to the 1960s where kids just hung around the neighborhood and planned things like hellacious water balloon fights and extended games of hide and seek that usually meant that you were just trying to get away from the crazy wall-eyed kid who lived three houses over and always smelled like pureed cauliflower.

But, the thing is, it's not the 1960s. Every other kid I know is scheduled up the wazoo with things like robot camp and tennis camp and band camp. And besides, thanks to the SF school system, even public school kids don't live in the same neighborhood as their friends. The backwash of this is that kids just don't leave their homes before lunch and come home before dinner to head out and hang with their buddies any more. There isn't anyone to hang out with. So, leaving them be for those 6 weeks is paramount to the following:
  • Copious amounts of TV watching
  • Abundant and voluminous nagging from me to stop watching said TV
  • Copious amounts of Wii and Computer time
  • Abundant and voluminous nagging from me to stop playing the Wii or the Computer
  • Dragging, pleading, whining and stomping when asked to PLEASE read something on the summer reading list
  • The planning and executing of play dates with those friends who are in between robot building, tennis playing and instrument instruction
  • Plentiful (more than plentiful) whining and grousing between and among two boys as a result of them just being brothers. Even the friendliest of animals are likely to bite each other when they are in captivity for too long.
  • The necessary patchwork of day trips to keep them busy. Idle hands ARE the devil's playthings. There can be no doubt about that.

In the end, who knows what I will end up doing with them. Rent them out to neighbors? Use our "members" pass to the Science Academy and the Exploratorium several times in a week? Wish upon wish that I had thought ahead and bought those season passes to Six Flags or Great America? Convince George the Elder that a summer mini-vacation to somewhere cheap with a pool would be the most generous gift he could give his family? Even if he isn't, say, actually able to accompany us? I'm scratching my head here.

If anyone has any perfect suggestions as to how they keep one mischievous 1o year old and one almost teenager (including the requisite frequent attacks of teenage ennui) could you please buy me a clue? It would be much appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Send them to Louisville for a few days. I could use somebody to hang with.....George the Elder can vouch for me. We can do aikido, baseball, go to the louisville slugger museum, go to churchhill downs....

Chris said...

We hired an all-day, college aged nanny for the summer. It worked great last year, and we expect no less this year. Found them on Craig's List. Set the rules, suggest a schedule (ie Monday is Library day, only 1.5 hrs of XBox a day, etc.), scout out some cool places like the water park and set them free. It'll set you free. Worth every penny.