Wed 07 December 2016
That’s right folks, summer is here. And boredom, like videos of adorable hugging kittens, is viral.
We broke a record this summer. The school year hadn’t even officially ended before the first child had that look…you know the one. That look of world-weary ennui that only a child can so perfectly capture. As if his life is so disappointing in it’s entertainment value (and you along with it) that it isn’t even worth his contempt? That look. And my oldest three aren’t even real teenagers yet. This is an article sponsored by Gather Their really golden years of boredom haven’t even begun yet I tell them. Those hit around the age of 14-15. Around the age when you’re old enough to want a social life, but without the means to achieve it (no money and no license). Now those are prime boredom years there.
But you can’t tell them that. They are easily convinced that no other human has ever experienced the level of boredom that they are experiencing at that moment. I often disagree with them at this moment. “Sure they have,” I say. “Look at your brother over there, he’s completely lost his will to live. Hey! Mopey McMoperson? Why don’t you go clean your room for something to do?” The child’s eye twitches and an involuntary shudder wracks his body. “Vacation time is wasted on you people,” I announce. “You don’t know how to have downtime.”
And it’s true. They don’t. I have no idea when I had children that I would have to teach them how to have downtime. Isn’t the ability NOT to do something simply encoded in the DNA? I thought it was. Were children always this way? Probably, but I wonder if it’s been made worse by the way in which the current generation of kids is being raised under such highly structured circumstances. There isn’t much of their schedules during the school year that isn’t accounted for.
I know it’s occasionally popular to harken back to the days when you just roamed the neighborhood at will and dusk was your curfew, the days when your parents were not expected to engage you every single minute of the day, but I swear we knew better how to occupy ourselves and it seems like the goal was NOT to have a parent in your face all the time. I suppose it’s six of one, half dozen of the other.
This is why I’ve come to be in favor of the year round school schedule. We have three kids on a regular school year and two on a year round schedule. They’ll get 6 weeks for summer and then about 3 weeks off for every 9 weeks they go. Less backsliding academically, less boredom over the summer, less burnout during the school year.
I realize that for parents who work out of the home (and many who work in it) that childcare isn’t currently geared to support that schedule, but I do think it makes more sense and that it was more widely considered. For us this year, summer camps are cost-prohibitive. Instead, we’re doing the home version of Mom’s summer camp. I’ve assigned chores and reading and math. Writing is also a goal, but I might tackle that one in the second month. Trust me, it was a full time job just getting the 6 of them scheduled for those things. So is enforcing it, since surprisingly enough, very few of them voluntarily show up in the morning to report for duty. Sheesh!
Instead, every day of the summer I will get up and greet the day and the troops with a welcome to Mom’s Summer Camp!