Your Summer Challenge: To Figure Out How to Inflict Mind-Numbing Boredom Without Getting Caught in the Cross-Fire

My latest project has been to try and figure out how to make my daughter’s summer miserable.  You have to do this, you know, so it makes life easier in the fall when it’s time to go back to school.  If you’ve planned the summer right, your child will be begging you to take her shopping for school supplies by the end of June. In July, she will spontaneously volunteer to write a report on every country in the world, alphabetically. And when the postcard announcing “Meet the Teacher Night” arrives in the mail in August, she will exclaim, “Finally!  Thank God!  If you don’t drive me there right now, I’m going to start walking.”

Or, so I’ve heard.  So far, I have never been able to achieve this Summer Nirvana.  As an adult.  As a child, I hit these milestones annually.  So, I’ve been racking my brain to figure out what my mother did right and I’m doing wrong.

I remember the one summer that she decided I was going to summarize every book I read on little index cards and put them in a file.  I don’t remember the purpose she expressed for this assignment, but in my head I heard, “Since you like to read so much, I thought I would completely stifle your love of books by requiring you to write something every time you finish one.”  Maybe she was trying to make sure I was eager for school to start again – or maybe she was tired of filling her trunk with books every time we went to the library.  Most likely, she was tired of looking for the books that we had filled the trunk with 2 weeks before whenever it was time to return to the library.

By the end of the summer, I hadn’t completed any books – just started 103 and read until the 2nd to last chapter.  In my spare time, I participated in a weekly scavenger hunt for lost books, and started my own school in the basement for stuffed animals. One of the subjects I taught my extremely well-behaved class was Handwriting, which obligated me to pretend to write in 15 various styles every day so I could “grade” their writing.  The irony is not lost on me that I filled about 1500 pages with the writing of my stuffed animals while simultaneously avoiding to set a pen down to the index cards that remained blank for 2.5 months.

Now that I’m a mom, I’ve tried to carry on the tradition of mind-numbingly boring summers for my own daughter, but I seem to be failing in this area.  I call our summers, “Mom Camp”, and the provided activities have consisted of: Closet Cleaning, Drawer Depuration, Find Something to Do Besides Playing on your iPod or Watching T.V., and For God’s Sake, Run Around in the Backyard with the Dog Because You’re Both Driving Me Crazy (I Don’t Care if It’s a Hundred Degrees and There are Giant Mosquitoes Out There).

But every August, my daughter becomes increasingly depressed as the first day of school approaches.

Obviously, I need to change the program of “Mom Camp”.  The challenge is to do this without ruining my summer.  I mean, I think we can all predict the response to me saying, “Here’s some index cards.  Every time you play an app during the next 8 weeks, you need to summarize it in complete sentences. Oh, and teach your Build-a-Bear how to write, for crying out loud.  That thank-you card he sent me for the blue tropical swim trunks looks like chicken scratch.”

Of course, making her increasingly question my sanity could be my new strategy…

I hate to tell these moms, but they are doing this all wrong.  This looks too fun.  YOU'RE MAKING A BIG MISTAKE, CAMP MOM DIRECTORS!

I hate to tell these moms, but they are doing this all wrong. This looks too fun. YOU’RE MAKING A BIG MISTAKE, CAMP MOM DIRECTORS!

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Posted on May 25, 2013, in Children, Family, Humor, Parenting and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Such responsibility! Hey – when Dimples gets to Australia (sooner) and New Zealand (later) in her research, let her know I’m happy to help… 🙂

  2. I have to rethink summer vacation! I was going to get an ant farm and grow veggies. Too much fun??

    • Yes. But you can still salvage things. First of all, make them wash and eat all of the veggies. Secondly, sneak into their room in the middle of the night and leave the plug off the ant farm. Then take your husband and go stay in a hotel.

  3. Funny stuff. I distinctly remember wanting to be the kid picked to go outside after lunch and hose down the water cooler aka swamp cooler. Hey. Summer in TX before A/C.

    Better than watching Art Linklater or Bob Crosby on TV. Indoor time was required from noon until 2 pm so we wouldn’t get polio.

    Those were the days.

    • We had indoor time those hours, too! But we were told it was our mother’s nap time. So, not only were we inside, but we had to be absolutely silent.

      Yeah, that didn’t happen.

  4. You know, I played a LOT of school when I was little, but apparently, I was phoning it in the whole time. Why, why, WHY didn’t I think to actually have my stuffed students produce some work for me to grade? What kind of a lazy teacher was I?? Ugh.

  5. I make them clean for the first two weeks they are off or however long it takes them to clean the pantry and all the kitchen cabinets. they absolutely hate me for it, but I can’t stop. this year I have ambitiously planned on completing these tasks before they are out of school. considering I have ten? more days to do it, it looks like it will be cleaning camp as usual. ;o) let me know some more fabulous ideas as I am obviously in need.

    • I’m playing with the idea of volunteer work this summer. She wants to do it at an animal refuge, so I’m thinking we should weed plants at the SA Food Bank garden.

  6. You have me in stitches over here. My kids will never want to go back. I have to add more manual labor chores and penmanship exercises!

  7. Love the Mom Camp idea! Some other camp activities could be clothes folding, dinner for a family in 30 minutes or less which does not involve mac n cheese. Love the post!

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