School’s Out! (With Words This Time)

School let out for the summer at noon yesterday, and a group of care-free children got off the big yellow bus and took their customary after-school stroll down the sunny street to their respective homes.  They were notably more boisterous and giddy than usual as they sang familiar songs such as "School’s out, school’s out, teacher let the monkey’s out…" and I’ll spare you the last two lines.  I’m sure you remember them well, cause there’s really nothing new in the world, is there?

D entered the house and carelessly slung his backpack into its usual corner of the foyer, because, you know, it would be far too tasking to take an extra ten steps and place it in the laundry room where it officially belongs. 

After a nutritious lunch of Kraft Mac-and-Cheese, I grabbed the grungy backpack for the last time this year.  I sorted through papers, unfinished workbooks, laminated nametags, a pencil box containing an assortment of crayons and pencils and scissors, and about five or fifty empty granola bar wrappers. 

I emptied out the manila "communications folder" for the last time and found D’s final report card buried inside along with his teacher assignment and school supplies list for the 2nd grade.  (Today, I officially have a 2nd grader.  HOW did this happen?  And do they honestly expect me to keep track of this supply list until it’s time to purchase school supplies for next year?)   

I saved a few pertinent keepsakes and tossed the rest of the miscellany in the trash, backpack and all, a liberating experience to say the least!

Then I retired to my front porch to leisurely review D’s final first grade evaluation while the neighborhood kids gathered in our yard for an afternoon of splashing in the pool, riding bikes, and various backyard games that have no names or official instructions, only the flexible rules that exist in the minds of the children that play them.

Ahhhh… SUMMER.  There is no time of year I like more.  The lazy mornings, the warm hazy days at the swimming pool, the muggy evening ice cream runs, I love it ALL!

Now, I’m not a scheduled person. AT. ALL.  And I don’t have a lot of rules.  But I am a creature of habit, so I tend to develop basic routines.  And I have a funny feeling that my comfy routines are about to be disrupted. 

So today I’m working on figuring out a new summer routine.  And I need to set up some basic "ground rules" for the kids.
My son, in particular, is the kind of kid whose expectations need to be
managed delicately. 

And frankly, I need to manage my own expectations, because I have come to enjoy a new-found time to myself in the mornings.  For the last couple months, I’ve been getting up early, walking, and having my morning coffee along with a brief time of prayer and meditation before I have to wake my son and get him off to school.  And then once he’s on the bus, I usually have more time to work play on the computer before the girls get up.  I have come to expect getting this time to myself.

But today my son bounded out of bed at 7am, right as I was opening my Bible and taking my first sip of coffee.  (Why is it that I had to drag him out of bed at 7:30 every morning to get him to school on time, but now that he has no obligations, he is up with the birds??  Can anyone explain this phenomenon???)

I was about to tell him this was my time and he should find something quiet to do when I realized that this might be the best time of the day to spend with him, when his sisters are blissfully sleeping and he has no friends vying for his attention.  So instead of shooing him off to play video games or organize his baseball cards, I invited him to join me in my Bible reading. 

Then he asked me to read him a chapter of the book we’ve been reading together, so we curled up on the couch together while I read.  By that time, I figured I’d paid my dues, so I told him I was going to take some computer time, but he wanted to play Sorry!   I started to tell him we could play later when I remembered that it’s virtually impossible to play board games with R the Menace running about, so we played a rousing game of Sorry!  (He won, how rude!)

By then I figured I had definitely earned my computer time, so I sent D off to play in the street earn some video game time with independent reading, and I set off to charm the Internets with my witty and profound thoughts and observations mundane deliberations about our summer routines.

So.  If you have kids, what are your basic "ground rules" for summer vacation?  Do you turn the TV off for a few months?  Or are you more lax about TV rules because it is, after all, vacation? 

Do you make your kids do any school work to keep their skills up?  Do you do any special projects or enrichment activities with your kids?

Do you schedule lots of summer camps and activities, or do you consider summer a time to relax and be free of scheduling obligations? 

Please, SHARE!  Inquiring minds wanna know!