I have yet to see the first full week of summer in my rearview mirror and already I’ve received e-mails, texts and two letters informing me of all the over the summer work required of each and every child in our school district. There are reading lists, an “optional,” but strongly encouraged on-line daily math program that will only cost me $39.99 for each child, something called Study Island and summer journals. Each of these correspondences stresses the need to keep our kids, “minds sharp,” “academically agile” and “competitive.” The buzz words are “maintain and retain knowledge.” They also go in for the kill by listing scary statistics about how a summer not spent in an “active pursuit of scholarship” will result in “learning atrophy.” Based on the district’s projections by August my kids cerebellums will resemble a big, heaping bowl of steel-cut oatmeal. They’ll be slobbering cavemen unsure of why 2×2=4 and unable to tie their own shoes. The damage wrought by an un-educational summer means my son will be become a lobotomized video game zombie and my daughter a Disney Channel dilettante who can no longer read, but can sing every Selena Gomez song. Oh, the humanity!
Here’s what I would like to tell the school district – Back Off! I’m well aware that my kids’ brains are going to shrink over the summer. The swimming alone and blunt force trauma from too many jumps off the high dive will cause their gooey gray matter to shrivel. Why just look at their fingers after 2 hours in the pool. I know they will get dumber each week we go deeper into July and August. I base this statement on my own empirical data that shows each hour spent at home translates into a precipitous loss of cognitive memory. My children forget fundamental facts like a wet towel doesn’t live on the floor and needs to be hung up, the TV should be turned off when you exit a room, the refrigerator must stay closed and the sun is hot. Yes, imagine the level of stupidity your children have plummeted to when they no longer can remember that a black asphalt surface will burn their bare feet, that a leather car seat after basting in 120 degree heat for seven hours has the ability to not only tattoo the back of their thighs, but also singe off leg hair like an at home electrolysis session or that sunscreen is not optional due to the big yellow thing in the sky and it’s fiery, lethal rays. Summer is all about stupid and I think it should stay that way because I don’t have the energy or enthusiasm for it to be anything else.
Here’s the deal – for nine long months, September thru May, I was pregnant with school. I made sure my kids did everything they needed to succeed. I cajoled, threatened, harassed, nudged, pleaded, organized, collated, prayed, libraried, tutored, glue-gunned and reprimanded my kids for 180 days. By early June I celebrated my delivery from school. I’m now in the recovery room. I have zero energy, zeal or stamina to undertake any kind of aggressive summer education initiative. For my kids to accomplish the suggested list of activities I would have to be in “Nazi Mom” school mode all summer. My house would be in an educational lock down. Everyday it would be “Did you do this?” Did you do that?” “Let me see it.” I need to lay down, watch a Real Housewives of New Jersey and place a can of icy cold diet coke on my forehead just thinking about it. I don’t care if it makes me a bad mother to admit that I’m burned out and (Gasp!) I’m okay with my kids being idiots for a month or two out of the year. I also don’t care that as I write this millions of kids in China are studying their brains out for something called the Gao Kao while my daughter is watching Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure for the 87th time and my son has achieved the rank of Brigadier General on Halo. For the sake of my sanity and to ward off a tsunami of mombitch I’m telling my school district to cease and desist with their guilt e-mails and threats disguised as providing seasonal educational enrichment. This mom needs her summer break and yes, at this instant in time, it is all about me. Don’t worry come August first I’ll whip everybody into a reading frenzy and my kids will start filling up their summer journals with well punctuated half-truths and fibs. Until then I’ll be the mom at the pool reminding her children about the inferno properties of the sun.