School is officially out for summer and now the real fun begins. Not actual fun, but the fun of having children under foot twenty-four hours a day. Now don’t come down on me because I’m baring my soul and telling it like it is. I know many of you would like to have year round school, but you’re too afraid to admit it.
It’s not that I don’t like children. I liked my own children, and we built a fence around the yard to keep other people’s children away. It’s just that kids don’t know how to entertain themselves anymore. As parents, or just random neighborhood adults, we are expected to entertain these miniature individuals from the moment they step off the bus till that blessed day they step back on when school starts up again in September.
My mom was from that generation of parents that pushed their kids outside and said, “Go play until I call you for dinner.” Sometimes she let us back in for lunch. Other days we grazed on grapes, peaches or cherries, depending on the season. Of course in Minnesota children would just starve to death cause nothing grows in peoples yards except rhubarb.
I tried that with my kids. After all, we built a fence to keep them safe. All they had to do was stay in it and play. They even had a dog, and a cool fort with a slide and swing. What more did they need to be entertained for a few short hours while I cleaned the house and watched General Hospital? Apparently—ME. They couldn’t stay outside for ten minutes without running in with some feeble excuse. “I need a drink.” (There was a perfectly good hose right outside the door.) “I have to get my action figures.” (Dozens of plastic creatures were already buried in the sandbox.) “I’m hungry.” (That was totally a habit.) “I have to go to the bathroom.” (If you’d quit drinking so much you wouldn’t need to keep peeing! And besides—there’s bushes right over there.)
There are actually some mothers who innocently, and with great expectations, plan craft making days for their children. I know—it sounds delusional but they have a radical leader and her name is Martha Stewart. I actually saw that crazy woman on TV the other day explaining how to make a beautiful craft tabletop for children to work at. Like they would really sit at a table longer than it takes you to write down the building instructions! What a waste of time. Martha Stewart always has these awesome ideas to teach children how to be creative, make beautiful crafts, and bake cookies too pretty to eat. It may have worked with her fellow prison inmates, but without mandated incarceration, kids will not stay in the same room for two minutes to do anything except make a mess and walk away. But if you enjoy doing your child’s homework, science projects, and chores, you will probably enjoy making their crafts for them too.
Another way some parents try to entertain their children for the summer is to take them on special field trips. They plan day trips to the zoo, the Science Museum, or a park. Some actually take their kids shopping. What a nightmare! Have you ever been to the grocery store with children? Turn your back for one second and you have a cart full of Captain Crunch and Gummy bears, they’ve run the cart into some old lady’s motorized chair, and there’s a spill on aisle 8 that you know they had something to do with.
Bringing kids to the Mall is an option you might want to consider. Kids get lost at the mall all the time. You could have hours of unfettered browsing before security relentlessly tracks you down and returns them. I’d practice making relieved, ecstatic faces in a mirror before trying this though. You know what happened to the dad that went gambling at the casino and left his kids at the mall all day. You don’t want to be featured on the evening news. They always find a way to make parents look bad.
My kids are grown up now, so I don’t have to think of ways to survive the summer. This information is all for you. I’m a sharing kind of person. Just one experienced parent giving free advice and encouragement to those willing to listen. Or you can listen to Martha and build that table. Good luck!