Quite candidly, if there was a time of year that makes me feel like I am going to lose my shit, it is the time between *right now* and Columbus Day. Summer is my absolute favorite time of year and my 2013 summer hourglass is very quickly running out of sand. This summer, in particular, has been wonderfully idyllic. Since my typical 10-12 week stint with my kids was slashed to 8 weeks this year, thanks to snow days and professional development days for the teachers, I am feeling a bit crabby and agitated. I feel cheated out of time that I feel rightfully belongs to my family. I want the streak of relaxation and peace to continue.
Truth: I’m not, nor have I ever been, one of those people who jumps for joy when the school buses are back on the road and the kids go back to school. I actually *enjoy* spending time with my children. Even more so now that I work from home. Unstructured, lazy, sun-filled, quality time with them makes my heart sing. The Staples commercials with the overjoyed parents sailing down the aisles make me want to throw a brick at my television (and at the marketing people who created the campaign). And, I question the people who love those commercials and can’t wait to shoo their kids out the door without a second glance. It makes me think they aren’t doing the whole parenting-in-summer thing correctly.
Summer for me is like a nice, blissed-out trip to Happyville.
In first class.
With pillows and blankets and free WiFi.
The transition to back to school is like horrible stomach-churning turbulence followed ever so quickly by a chaotic and painful crash landing.
For me, the summer trumps all other seasons. Hands down. No contest.
Knowing that my youngest daughter is going back before Labor Day and I have less than three more days with her makes me sad. It makes me even sadder that part of those days will include rushing around for the school supplies that I firmly believe should be supplied by the actual schools (*not the teachers) and funded with my tax dollars. We would both rather be at the beach or playing mini-golf than standing six-deep in a too-narrow aisle at Walmart to get her mandatory color-coded folders. Last week, she confided that she wasn’t ready to go back to school and asked if I could home-school her. I am seriously contemplating whether or not it is feasible.
I know what’s about to happen here and I feel powerless to stop it. Leisurely family dinners will be replaced by sports practices, science projects, and frequent indigestion. My husband (who, once soccer season starts, will work upwards of 80 hours a week until next summer) and I will struggle to have an intelligent, lengthy, heart-felt, face-to-face conversations from now until next June. Who the hell has the energy to plan for the future and solve the world’s problems at 10 p.m.? Hint: typically not us, although there are moments of brilliance. Instead of being a cohesive unit of four, we will have to play divide and conquer in order to make it through most days. My oldest daughter will be gone for 10 hours of the day, then have 2 hours of homework. So, that will call for creative parenting and lots of cramming. Most of our family life will be disjointed and happen in the car. My beach days will come to a screeching halt and even though I tell myself I will go back when the kids are in school, I rarely do because I want to watch them play sports (because it’s really some of the only time I will get to see them).
We get creative, and I think we make it all work really well. And, I put on my game-face and by Halloween I am kind of excited for mums and sweaters and cider and the hum of a routine. Right now, however, I hate the precipitous end of the season. It feels like a punch to the throat. Why can’t we gradually ease back into all of this? Like a leisurely Sunday drive?
Is there anything more annoying than this? The fact that it is 2013 with us waist-deep in the digital age in the most developed country in the world, yet I still have to FILL OUT BY HAND the same forms, in duplicate, that I have filled out every single year for the past 8 years really gets my goat! How about coming up with an automated system that houses all of the parents’ information and give us the option to click a mouse a couple of times if anything like our phone # or marital status has changed?! I understand the importance of the information and that the school nurse needs to be able to get in touch with us — but I think there is a more efficient use of both the administrators’ and the parents’ time (not to mention, a more environmentally friendly option) in the first week of school. Let’s get with the program.
In addition to that, there is the school pick-up line which I despise
more now than I did when I was standing in it as a student. I won’t go
into detail. The whole scene is pretty self-explanatory.
Standardized testing is a four-letter word in my eyes. I am a huge proponent of education, but not that kind of education. When I think about how my kids and their teachers are little rats in the wheel of budgetary allocation, I want to cry. I don’t want my children to be forced to meet a standard in math and English at the expense of the educational system acknowledging their true, inherent gifts. I want my kids to be able to read and comprehend, write articulately, calculate their paycheck, leave an appropriate tip, write a kick-ass resume and cover letter, problem-solve effectively, blaze a trail, and have the ability to budget for retirement. Everything else is gravy. What I ultimately want from their public school education is for them to not be the SAME as everyone else and funneled through the same chute. I want their teachers to have the freedom to help them discover what they are truly gifted at and teach them how to run with that. Kids who know to their core what they excel at and can then go apply their unique magic to do something totally amaze-balls in the world at large — that right there would be a beautiful, magical thing.
I get high blood pressure over the fact that my kids will be chained to a desk, in a germ-infested classroom, devoid of fresh air and sunshine for the better part of 6 hours a day. Running, swimming, playing, digging, and exploring replaced with…SITTING. Hence the need for organized sports…my kids (and I am guessing your kids, too) are SO MUCH HAPPIER when they have ample access to fresh air, tired lungs, and natural sources of Vitamin D. I would love for nature to be their classroom as much as possible during the school year.
Things are just better in the summer. So, no, I am not looking forward to replacing relaxation, family time, BBQs, healthy summer glows, sun-streaked hair, flip-flops, and the sand between our toes with tag-team parenting, core curricula, cookie cutter education, alarm-clocks, chaos, homework, closed-toed shoes, and car-time. Call me crazy…I’m just not.
If this makes me a terrible person or a kooky liberal in your eyes, so be it. Feel free to talk about it in the pick up line. Until then, I plan on heading to the beach and catching some more fresh air and sunshine. And, with any luck, my children will have more sand in their backpacks than school supplies on the first day. 🙂