A version of this piece was published in Brain Child last year. Ten To Twenty Parenting has republished it on their blog. Some things change over time…my feelings towards this summer assignment has not.
So, I wasn’t planning on posting again so soon, but I had something to say and I have never been very good at keeping my mouth shut. I wanted to post a link to this article in last week’s Boston Globe, Parade Magazine, by Mitch Albom. I thought it was fantastic. (http://www.parade.com/news/views/mitch-albom/110807-the-joys-of-summer.html).
I can’t say it better than him, but let me try to sum it up for you. Basically he is saying, when did we lose summer? When did we decide to let our anxiety, our competitiveness, our need to keep up with the Joneses in every way, take over our lives? And why are the schools making all the rules for us? Summer is supposed to be a vacation. VA-CA-TION! Is your child not going to make it in this world because instead of doing their summer reading, summer math, book reports, they stayed up playing flashlight tag and night swimming? Are they going to fail because they didn’t go to the right camp or get some sort of academic enrichment? I think they’ll be okay.
I love to read. I read as a kid all the time. I practically grew up in the library. It was air-conditioned, free, and quiet. All good things in the hot summer when you come from a large family. If I could, I would do nothing else but read all day. I just resent the fact that our children are slowly being required to do more and more academic work over their summer break. And it isn’t just summer, it’s over winter break, Thanksgiving break, February break, and long weekends as well. How would you feel if you planned a vacation, say in the Bahamas. You are looking forward to sitting on the beach, swimming in the waves, hanging out and reconnecting with your family, and then, on your way out the door your boss hands you a stack of papers saying, “Hey, have a great vacation! Oh, and by the way, have all these reports done by the time you come back.” I see this over and over again with my kids. They are pulling out backpacks on the plane, worrying while we are at Disney about studying for tests, or trying to finish the research paper they were assigned. Crazy. That’s it. I am done ranting, for now….
How many times have you said to your kids, “Five more minutes, then we are going!” We all give our kids these inane warnings, all the time. Listen next time you are at the park,or a store, or a party and you can hear parents all around you warning their offspring, “Five more minutes!” Really, I think we are probably warning ourselves, and the other adults around us, with a polite “I am outta here.” But then we run into an old friend, or start a conversation with new friends, settle down with just one more glass of wine and soon five minutes turns into 6, and then into 60. How are our kids ever going to learn the concept of time ? Here is a short story I wrote about this after I caught myself giving my kids their 100th warning that it was time to leave. Enjoy!
Five More Minutes!
“Kids! Five more minutes! We have to go!” Mom called downstairs.
Five minutes! Awww, what can we do in five minutes?
So… we had a fast, funky dance party,
and a lovely, little tea party ,
and a cool costume party with sparkly hats,
colorful feather boas,
and scary face masks.
“Children, five more minutes!” Hollered Dad
So… we had silly potato sack races,
and tricky wheelbarrow races,
and a championship three-legged race.
“Hey Cuties, five more minutes!” Yelled Aunt Sue.
So… we watched a whole scary movie with the lights off,
and played crazy charades,
and finished an entire game of Monopoly.
“Yo, guys and gals! FIVE-MORE –MINUTES!” Bellowed Uncle Dave.
So… we played nine innings of baseball,
and nine innings of kickball and…
nine rounds of dodge ball…
“Oh, Sweeties, just five more minutes!” Sang out Grandma.
So… we made delicious cupcakes with pink and chocolate frosting,
and ice cream sundaes with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles,
and had a very successful, neighborhood lemonade stand.
“Calling all you mad monkeys! Five more minutes!” Said Granddad.
So… we made a time machine from some nails, and sheets and
old wood we found in the back yard,
painted it all red and black,
and went back in time to slay a fierce, fire-breathing dragon.
“Come on! Five minutes are up! Time to go!” said Mom.
“But we aren’t done yet!”
“Okay, okay, five more minutes!”
“Awww, but what can we do in just five minutes?”
Anne Cavanaugh-Sawan, 2011.