I was a teacher before I had kids.
A young, opinionated, judgemental teacher.
I often found myself saying,
“How hard is it?”
How hard is it to clean out a backpack?
How hard is it to fill out a permission slip?
How hard is it to check your kid’s work?
How hard is it to sign a reading log?
Well, now that I’m on the other side, sometimes it can be pretty fucking hard.
Life gets in your way.
Sometimes you just don’t have the energy.
Sometimes you forget.
When school ended on June 21st, I was going to let the kids relax until July.
Then, I would get them on a schedule.
Have them do an hour of school work before they went outside, or went swimming or did anything else.
30 minutes of reading, and 30 minutes of writing in a journal and practicing math facts.
Then July came.
So did swim team.
And travel baseball.
And 90 degree weather.
We’d enjoy the first week of July too.
Just be kids.
And have fun.
I thought the same thing the second week of July.
And the third.
And the fourth.
Okay, we’d start in August.
We’d still have 4 weeks to practice math facts.
And fill out reading logs.
Three weeks ago I finally got around to emptying out the kids’ backpacks.
Number 3 had about 17 packets of work to do this summer in his.
I decided their “work” time would be during Number 5, 6, and 7’s naptime.
I let Number 4 relax and read in our bed.
Number 3 went out by the pool with his book and packets and sat in the shade.
I don’t know if they actually read anything, but they were quiet.
And they didn’t bother me.
I let them know when their time was up.
Number 3 and 4 went back to playing until Number 5, 6, and 7 woke up from their naps.
We had somewhere to go, I don’t remember where, and once everyone was awake, we rushed out of the house.
I never checked to see if Number 3 picked up his stuff and put it away.
The weather changed while we were out, and it got super windy.
All of his papers blew into the pool.
Just like the rest of my plans to keep them on a schoolwork regimen.
You know what?
It’s fucking summer.
My kids have learned a lot.
Number 3 learned a million rules about baseball he never knew.
He learned how to do a flip turn.
He learned about the value of teamwork.
He learned how to handle losing like a good sport.
He learned how to ride his bike.
Number 4 learned what’s involved in running her own business when she made $30 with her lemonade stand.
She learned how to handle disappointment.
And look for the silver lining in every situation.
She learned how to measure 1 cup.
And make meatloaf.
She even made her own cookbook.
Because she wanted to.
She learned how to change the style, and size, and color of the font on a Word document.
They both learned stuff they are going to really need to use when they grow up.
But you know what?
It woulda been totally fine if she hadn’t done any of that.
I don’t give a crap about elementary school test scores.
I couldn’t care less about the summer writing packet.
Those summer work packets your kid brings back to school at the end of August?
You know what happens to them?
Your kid could write This summer packet is bullshit on every page, and it would still come home with a smiley face or a sticker on the front page.
Nobody actually checks the work.
And I don’t give a crap about the Summer Reading Challenge either.
We read to our kids every day.
They read to each other all the time.
Number 4 reads on her own for fun.
Number 3 doesn’t.
And quite frankly,
I don’t want to force him to do it.
He loves to read to Number 6 and 7.
And that’s good enough for me.
He hasn’t forgotten how to read.
I’ll wait until next week to make him read when it’s a homework requirement.
I’ve got other shit to deal with.
Like enjoying these last few days of summer with my kids.