Oh, goody. Only seven more weeks of summer vacation left for the kids. Shoot me now. Seriously, just shoot me. I’m working on a new record this year, I was just accused of child neglect by my 12 year old, just 3 weeks in to the annual summer debacle. usually the wheels fly off around week 5. Apparently, my kids made an emergency call to their beloved Grannie Frannie today, while I was at work, to report that they were being starved to death by their heartless parents. Their cry for help was immediately answered by their 100% Italian grandmother, who put the pedal to the metal and showered them with food, love and concern, Con artists. Oh boy, it’s going to be a long summer. i can’t believe she fell for it, the Mom I grew up with would have said “have a bowl of cereal” as she left for work-which is exactly what I said when I left for work. She’s gone soft. I’m digging in, going old school this summer.
See, I have never figured out how to operate in this new world of parenting we live in, even though I have been it for 14 years. I have spent the majority of those years shaking my head at what I perceive as competitive parenting, a new sport pitting parents against each other in the race to form the perfect child as fast as possible. Children don’t play, they have “activities”, these activities need to be varied, exposing them to a vast array of the cultures and arts, preferably starting twenty seconds after conception. Parents immerse themselves in every aspect of their child’s life, planning and plotting every move, arranging “play dates” and jockeying for their kid’s position in the “who’s who” of pre-k. Miss your child’s baseball game? Oh, hell no.
Summer has become an exercise of structured, enrichment activities, followed by devastating lows and lulls, during which kids have no idea what the heck to do. I personally think that the child labor laws need to be revisited. I remember when I was about 13 years old and hanging outside with my friends on a sticky summer day (no one stayed inside..there was nothing to do in there) and my Dad called out to me..”Hey! I got you a job! You start tonight!” Pleased as punch with himself, not a detectable trace of sadness that his baby girl would not be skipping rope with her friends that summer. My first job. Two hours later, I was standing over a huge sink, washing dishes in a seafood restaurant, the sink was positioned directly over huge pots where the crabs were steamed…it was a hot, miserable, disgusting job. The boys who steamed the crabs would occasionally throw a live crab in my dishwater when I wasn’t watching, just to add terror to the whole experience. Sometime after midnight, I would drag my exhausted, very smelly, somewhat stunned self to the owner who would be counting the register,..a 300 lb -plus man, he sat on a little stool with a cigar in his mouth..I’ll never forget him. He would stop counting the largest stack of bills I had ever seen just long enough to growl at me..”You wanna get paid? Did you do a good job?” I would nod ‘yes’ and he would peel off twenty under the table dollars. Jackpot. I was hooked. It was a fine enrichment activity, one I would love to arrange for my children, except now it’s called child abuse. Puhleeze..time to put these strong boys to work..who’s hiring?