I am a strong believer in working when it’s time to work and NOT working when it’s time to rest. After teaching more or less formally for a whole school year, again, and not even killing anybody, I need a summer vacation. The kids are kinda frazzled too.
Okay, not the end. That’s not a real blog post yet.
It might just be our hyper northern Virginia parents, but there seems to be a trend of making sure your kids constantly attend smart and pricey summer camps and day projects, especially STEM ones, and panicking if they have unscheduled time. They might do nothing and literally forget everything they’ve learned in the past year and, I don’t know, not make it into Harvard.
I’m all like, if your kids truly forget everything they learned, you’re doing it wrong.
This is summer vacation at my house:
Meg spends two hours on the computer, doing math problems to help her virtual dragon grow up.
Meg and Kate play some building game with dominoes that involves matching. It comes to a screeching halt when they realize the double six is missing. (We eventually find it under the game shelf.)
Meg asks where last names come from, and I explain using etymologies of our real friends’ last names.
The girls go out on the balcony with a cooking pot full of water and three empty icing containers. They splash the geraniums, haggle over water rights, and draw evaporative masterpieces on the wood planks.
Meg finishes her entire library challenge in under a week. The librarian refuses to accept it on the grounds they haven’t finished signing people up, adding reproachfully that it was supposed to take the whole summer. (Me, silently: Then you shouldn’t have given the cheat option of “just read a book” and reduced it by nine books from the number you required last year.)
Meg checks out a book on drawing sea creatures and produces entirely recognizable clams, sea stars, and clownfish. She especially likes the clownfish and goes to the trouble of coloring it in.
Kate discovers our puzzle shelf and periodically pulls one down and puts it together. She appreciates the puzzle of a girl with different outfits she can choose.
Meg gets out her Perler beads and creates a little dude and Minecraft-inspired tools for him to use.
Meg pulls out her Lego set that frustrated her last time, reads the directions, and gets it further along than she did on her last try. Today the Lego girl is accessorized with a dwarf beard and carrying an anvil and a hammer, because that’s the present Jonathan and I brought Meg back from the homeschool convention. I suggested the dragon could provide fire for the forge. Meg looked at me suspiciously and told me real forges wouldn’t have used dragon fire. She’s entirely right, of course. Meg then went and made a better forge out of construction paper.
Kate climbs up next to me with a stack of board books and we read and read.
We bake banana bread, and I make Meg read the recipe and do all the measuring and mixing. We chat with Nana over the rival merits of chocolate chips and Zante currants in banana bread, and I explain to Nana why we even have Zante currants, which is because Zante/Zakynthos is one of the islands in the Odyssey and so I HAD to buy them. I’m sure Odysseus would have liked Zante currants if they grew them back then. I don’t know if they did, but I know he’d have tagged them as “wine-dark.”
Meg inveigles her grandparents into playing Pass the Pigs, and they add pig scores for an hour and discuss having nerves of iron, steel, or melted butter.
Summer vacation is just not boring. That is, the girls do get bored, and then they go do something. (I go clean stuff.) I don’t mind people who want to continue a little school for structure to help family life move smoothly, because insanity doesn’t improve anyone’s vacation, but I regard summer rest as important. Play is not wasted time. People keep saying horrifying things like, “It’s almost August!” and “What are you doing for school next year?” and I answer them with the screams of terror they deserve. No, it is not almost August. It is summer vacation. We’re learning too much this summer to interrupt it with school.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images by Carolyn Bales.