Enjoy one from the summer archives.
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 a young, energetic mom who plays foreign language tapes in the car so her 8- and 10-year-old will learn French and German. Until they offer the lyrics from “The Lion King” in German, I don’t stand a chance with that plan.
My neighborhood is peppered with moms who damage Southern California’s reputation of being laidback. They 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. It never surfaced for my own accomplishments, but maternity triggered it. In short, it can’t take the guilt anymore. Between knowing these moms are out there playing their tapes, and then hearing my husband say, at the end of every summer day, “So, you went to the beach again, did you?”, I have broken down and set some grand goals this summer.
Let me put this into its proper perspective. My children and I like to watch midnight reruns and sleep until 10 a.m. We don’t roll out of bed at 6 a.m., so the day tends to slip away quickly, in spite of daylight-saving time. 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 began 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 had 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 their basic math facts. I have woven the math flash cards and Spanish into bedtime reading, and the kids seem fairly receptive.
I admit a personal agenda with the computer. Both kids want to use the computer for schoolwork, but it takes them hours with the hunt-and-peck approach. I figure if they learn basic keyboarding this summer, we can put a dent in homework agony henceforth.
Now, last week we went to the Del Mar Fair and, of course, there’s the Fourth of July picnic, and then we are planning to spend a couple of nights at Grandma’s. Gee, Monday is swimming pool day, and June gloom should start to fade from the beaches pretty quickly after that.
Hmmmmm. I wonder how you say, “Grab the sunscreen” and “Don’t splash your sister” in Spanish?
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer struggling with summer. Contact her at [email protected]