If you’ve stepped out of your air conditioned home, office or car at any point during the last 3 weeks, you’ve probably been hit by a wall of intense heat announcing the imminent arrival of summer, and along with it, the realization that summer holidays are quickly approaching.
It’s that time in June when the end of school is so close it feels like you can reach out and grab it. But experiencing all that makes June a wanna-be summer month – the hot weather, the longer days, the fun, the inability to focus – makes waiting for the end of the month and the beginning of holidays seem, at times, almost unbearable.
Recently, while watching our sons’ baseball game, a mom who is completing her first year teaching, commented that she had a headache. Another mom, who is a veteran teacher, remarked knowingly and sympathetically, “Of course you do. That’s called teaching in June.”
All the parents within earshot laughed, I suspect because we recognize that, in many ways, parenting in June is also not without its challenges. (…and I say this with due respect to teachers whose job it is to spend their June days with 20-30 holiday-hungry children)
My 11-year old son and eight-year-old daughter are no longer counting the weeks until the last day of school but now count the days. And if I know my son, he will soon be employing an intricate series of equations to calculate, at any given time, the exact number of hours, minutes, seconds and nano-seconds before the final bell of the school year rings.
My daughter is also looking forward to the fun and freedom from routine that a summertime schedule brings, but will actually miss the homework. She will likely suffer from withdrawal and will be constantly yearning for an opportunity to play school with somebody (anybody!) and to assign, complete and evaluate a range of curriculum-based homework.
No matter the time of year or activity level on any particular day or upcoming day, my kids and I have conflicting ideas of appropriate bedtimes. In June when it’s past 9:00 pm and the window coverings are no match for the late evening sun, it becomes even more difficult to convince them that the following day’s events will be much more pleasant and fun if they are well-rested.
Unfortunately, a logical explanation is pointless, and instead of a polite nod of understanding and compliance (I never stop hoping), I am met with facial expressions and body language which reveal shock and disgust. “Really?” the daggers from their eyes shoot. “You think I’m going to bed now?”
The final weeks at school include track and field events, play days, trips, special lunches, visitors, performances and more.
The exciting schedule and its inevitable conclusion remind me of a kid’s birthday party: the parents of the birthday child entertain a group of over-the-top excited kids for a couple of hours, and near the end feed them cake and candy and send them home to their parents. The party parents then sit down, likely with a relaxing beverage of sorts, and reflect on a successful, if not at times, trying birthday party.
In June, our children are over-stimulated by, in the kids’ opinion, all the best a school can offer, and when it ends, they dive into their holidays fully expecting the same level of activity.
Rather than relaxing and being content with an occasional swim and trip to the berry patch during the first week of holidays, I expect mine will be sniffing around for elaborately planned activities including long-jump competitions and trips to the park with 20 other friends.
Like my under-rested kids, I, too, am suffering from a lack of concentration. When I look at the June calendar – about 10 times throughout each day – I need to block absolutely everything else out in order to absorb the necessary information.
I stare at the squares, most with writing outside the lines, and struggle to focus my mind. There are sports schedules, school events, work obligations and other random entries.
Evenings are especially challenging. It’s not enough to know what is happening; the challenge is actually to figure out how it’s going to happen. Each evening there are three goals we strive to achieve: nutrition, supervision and transportation. The point to which each is achieved varies, depending on how many of the two adults in our household is present.
All and all, it is a wonderfully exciting time of year and anticipating its end, though busy, is equally exciting. Depending when you have actually found the time to sit down and read this, the kids’ waiting will be just about over. (Tuesday at 7:30 am – 56 hours. Tuesday at 7:30 pm – 44 hours. Wednesday at 7:30 am – 32 hours. Thursday at 7:30 am – 8 hours. Thursday 3:30 – It’s officially summertime!)