The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Small Talk: Forget freedom this year

Enjoy a past Small Talk from 1996.

Summer may mean freedom, relaxation and fun to you. It used to mean that to me. The good times are over. This year we are going to compete.

I recently spent a day in the company of an energetic mom who plays foreign language tapes in the car for her 8- and 10-year-old. Until they offer the lyrics from “The Lion King” in German, I don’t stand a chance with that plan.

My neighborhood seems to be peppered with moms who do constant damage to Southern California’s reputation of being laidback. They are the moms who succeed in filling every spare moment with extracurricular activities for their children. I wonder if they really shouldn’t be asked politely to move back East where they belong.

In any case, they have unwittingly tapped that tiny shred of competitive spirit that is buried deep within me. In short, it can’t take the guilt anymore. Between knowing these moms are out there playing their tapes and using their flash cards, and then hearing my husband say, “So, you went to the beach again, did you?” I have broken down and set some grand goals this summer.

Left to my own underachieving nature, it is all I can do to get up before 10 a.m. I also believe these late mornings are my absolute, God-given due after five years of being dragged painfully from my slumber several times each night and again at daybreak by one or both of my children.

Last summer we somehow managed to fill all seven weeks just getting our Boogie board style polished. But once school has been artificially resuscitated in mid-August to oblige our weird year-round calendar, I begin to suffer the pangs of inadequacy.

All around me moms were discussing computer camps, reading programs, prize-winning art classes and junior lifeguard skills. All my children learned to do over the summer was to put on their own sunscreen and build a truly fine drip sand castle. Not much use on their Harvard entrance application.

This year will be different. This year I have vowed that my youngsters will learn a little Spanish, master the computer keyboard and maybe memorize some basic math facts. I admit a personal agenda. Both kids need to use the computer for schoolwork, but it takes them hours with the hunt-and-peck approach. If they learn basic keyboarding this summer, we can put a real dent in homework agony henceforth.

Now, last week we went to the Del Mar Fair and, of course, there’s the trip to Palm Springs, and then we are planning to spend a week at Grandma’s. Gee, Monday is swimming pool day, and the ocean temperature should start to warm up pretty quickly after that.

Hmmmmm. I wonder how you say, “Grab the sunscreen” and “Don’t splash your sister” in Spanish.

Contact Jean Gillette at [email protected]