In Praise of Summer Vacation (and Children)

At the end of last summer I came across this snarky article in which a mother laments the nightmare of having to endure summer vacation with her children.  It annoyed the enamel off my teeth and I wrote this post in response. 

And then let it sit in my drafts all year. 

I was worried that I came across as too preachy or perfect so I never published it. Now that another summer has begun and I’m hearing all that anti-child stuff all over again, I decided to have my say.

I’m tired of summer — and children — getting a bum rap.  Here’s to the magic of summer and childhood, and to the parents who know how to cherish them.  🙂

~Alicia

Homeschooling mom Alasandra has written a great blog post in response to this quite unpleasant piece in which a mother complains about having to endure summer vacation with her children.
The author writes…

The dirty little secret of parenting is that there’s so little actual parenting involved. Mostly, “parenting” is a euphemism for “housework in the presence of children,” which quadruples when the temperature hits 90. The businesswoman daydreaming of her fireflies and lemonade stand edits out the image of her own disheveled mother beginning her sixth load of laundry (do wild blackberry stains ever really come out?), applying Band-Aids and zinc oxide, breaking up fights, mopping up spills, and perpetually sweeping, like a crazed Lady Macbeth: “yet here’s a spot … what, will these floors ne’er be clean?”

She goes on to complain about spilled lemonade, broken Wiis, plucked flowers and other nuisances that her newly freed children commit while home for summer break.

I realize the author is intending to be funny, but it strikes me as mostly just sad. What a way to look at children, especially your own.

Some mothers have told me that they hate summer vacation because the kids are home full time. They say they couldn’t homeschool because it would drive them nuts to be home with their children all day.

I homeschool because I want to have mine home! I like them!

Far from being some marathon of extra housework and unruly kids, summer here is fundamentally wonderful for all of us.

Summer is coming to an end and I’m not ready for it.  I love summer.

Some of my favorite parts include…

~ Daryl takes part in the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant with the Anna and Victoria, spending evenings for nearly 2 months rehearsing and performing with a cast that spans ages 4 to 85. Summer nights in July the girls come home with smeared stage makeup and fall into bed at nearly midnight, having stood after the show and signed programs for people who traveled from all over the world to see this bit of “Little House” history.

~ The kids and I take the soccer ball across the street and play exhausting (for me!) games of soccer on the school’s field, running like mad and playing until our sides are splitting from cramps and laughter and I lure them home with promises of ice cream.

~ Our whole family goes to the local lake. Daryl lies on the shore and looks for fossils and artifacts while the big kids ride inflatable beasts and jump gleefully from the dock again and again. Alex happily splashes in the water and I take several billion more pictures.

~ The kids and I walk around the neighborhood and they tell me fantastic stories about magical cornfields and unicorns that come eat from their hands. I listen intently and wish I could tape record every word to remember it years from now.

~ We buy too many vegetables, flowers and other garden goodies and all happily plant for 2 months, then water it all for the whole summer and scour the plants for strawberries, cherry tomatoes and the first raspberries of the season. Jack accidentally kills his flowers and tries to water them back to life. The kids cart potato peels and apple cores to the compost heap every night and baby the tomatoes with grass clippings for mulch.

~ We travel when we can, we camp, we visit friends. We look for museums and parks and historic sites to explore together. We ask questions and look things up and learn.

~ We lounge about. I spend too much time online while the baby naps and the girls swim at the city pool. We hang out together in the shade of the front yard, with the boys in the big tire sand box and Victoria and I sitting on the lawn swing reading magazines and drinking sasparilla from glass bottles.

~ And yes, we even make lemonade stands (with brownies!) and catch fireflies. When the fireflies aren’t around we even drive to look for them. They matter and they’re worth it, kinda like the kids.

And okay, there’s bickering and boredom and an awful lot of messes too. A ton of it! Trust me– there are tears and screeches and arguments and chaos. Of course the unpleasant stuff happens. But not enough to discount the good stuff.

My life as a mother revolves very little around laundry and spilled lemonade. Of course with 4 kids I do a lot of laundry, and there are a lot of spills. I delegate as much as possible and we let a lot of stuff slide. Our house is perpetually messy and that’s okay with me. There’s life to be led, and we’re leading it together.

I love summer vacation, and I love that homeschooling means that one way or another it goes on forever… stains, spilled lemonade and all.

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4 thoughts on “In Praise of Summer Vacation (and Children)

  1. Lovely post, Alicia–you brightened my day! Good grief, folks, there’s life to be led; let the Lady Macbeth routine go!

    I’m intrigued about mulching the tomatoes with grass clippings. Something I’m gonna try here. 🙂

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  2. I have had the same frustration. I keep seeing everyone talking about how horrible it is that Summer is here and their kids are home all day. I sure hope they don’t say these things to, or in front of, their poor kids.
    As a fellow homeschooling parent, I’m thrilled that Summer is here so we can lay off on school and have some fun! Isn’t that why we have kids, lol.

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  3. This is a great post! I’m a first time visitor (and fellow homeschooler), and enjoyed visiting your blog. I hear the same exact comments over here in Japan from other moms. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just the expected thing to say among moms — like a form of summer greeting. That would be pretty sad, too, but a little nicer than having to think of all those moms really hating being with their kids!

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