One week into summer break for the kids, and I’m confused by what I’m observing from them.
It’s like everything has changed in a matter of days. In different ways, both Beckett, 11, and Carson, 9, have clearly downshifted into summer living.
The summer is supposed to be the most enjoyable time of year when you live at the beach. It’s true in many ways, but of late I’ve been wondering if working families who rely on the peak season to make a living feel that’s truly the case. Like many families, our life is a constant juggling act while balancing work, family and play.
Every day of late I’ve been mumbling odd questions to myself. Where is Beckett going today at camp? Does he need sunscreen? Why does he want $2.50 for camp every day? What time is Carson’s speech therapy again? How long will he be at the office today? Who is going where with who tonight? Whose underwear is in the pool again? Why are Beckett’s soccer socks in the driveway? How come Carson’s iPad that he uses to talk with is on the trampoline?
Throughout the questions and the summer pace, I have noticed an immediate degradation in attention span, work ethic, general awareness, hygiene and memory. It’s typically more gradual than this but they clearly have embraced the change in routine that comes without school.
Some other tidbits from the first week of summer break include:
•Beckett came downstairs at 10:45 the other night wondering about dinner. We had actually eaten out already on the way home from a family function. He responded, “I thought that was just ‘Linner’ (combination of lunch and dinner).” I reminded him it was 5 p.m. when we ate. He turned his attention then to some snacks and seemed shocked when I started turning out all the lights downstairs because we were turning in. He was shocked to learn we don’t stay up till midnight every evening.
•I’m not sure when and why summer means neither kid needs to shower daily. They seem to think it’s optional because there’s no school. Therefore, they don’t need to be clean, brush their hair or teeth and put on different clothes when they wake up. I’m not sure why their teachers and classmates deserve the honor of their cleanliness and all the rest of us do not.
•It’s always a hassle putting sunscreen on the kids. It’s June 21 and I’m already out of patience with the whining of having to stand still, the constant moving inch by inch away so that the starting and ending points are across the room and the chilly nature of the spray can. “Oh just take it like a man,” I told Beckett one morning after he express his intention to invent a way for sunscreen to stay warm inside a can at all times. He now repeats my line every single time I put sunscreen on him.
•How come nobody is responding to me? I often ask myself this question. That’s because I made a mistake. I must always have eyes on them when speaking. Beckett could be not responding because he’s Facetiming with friends about nonsense that’s more important or he has his headphones on and is oblivious. With Carson it’s simpler. He just chooses to ignore at times.
•If you throw a basketball behind your back in the pool at a hoop and it goes awry by 10 feet more than once, I will ignore the sweet looks followed by requests to get out and retrieve it.
•When it’s dark out, you must come home (whether there is school or not). It’s about 9 p.m. and it’s time for the parents to have the relative peace of mind that comes with knowing their kids are in the house safe and sound for the night. Plus, I usually am ready to assume the position of drifting off to sleep in the middle of my wife’s favorite show.
•Reading is not a curse word in June, July and August. Neither of my kids naturally love to read. They do it because they have to in school for good grades. In the summer, they have summer reading requirements. In Beckett’s case, he has to read a certain amount of books and complete thorough book reports.
Last summer he wanted to read all the books and then write the reports because writing can be challenging. We told him that would be tough because the material would not be fresh, but asked us to let him try it his way. As expected it didn’t go well because he forgot key parts.
This year we are requiring him to read a couple chapters a day. One night this week he started reluctantly and threw a fit when he learned the first chapter was 14 pages (gasp).
•Eating vegetables is not optional because it’s summer. One day this week I mixed in peas in Carson’s spaghetti. He didn’t say anything, but I noticed later in the trashcan he had sorted through all the peas. Beckett rushed to his defense, throwing a banana at him and telling him he must eat it if he’s not going to eat his vegetables. A short food fight then ensued, resulting in everyone needing to shower. The complaints began immediately (see the earlier part about showering reluctance).