I love that my kids hate school.
Stay with me here . . . Yes, I absolutely love that year after year, my boys cannot wait to ditch school for summer break, that they endlessly bemoan the academic year and cannot wait for June.
I love it because it is normal. I love it because it means they enjoy being at home and implies that I make summers fun for them, or, rather, allow summers to be fun for them. I love it because I always dreaded summers when I was growing up. Dreaded them with knots in my stomach by April. And I want my children to never have that feeling.
My summers were highly regimented with no relaxation time built in. Both my parents worked and did not believe in spending money on summer camps. I had two little brothers, who I was responsible for taking care of from as far back as I can recall while mom and dad worked. We were loaded daily with extra school work to “keep us off the streets” even though we lived in a perfectly safe and boring suburb.
In their view, an idle child was akin to a delinquent child, which basically meant my summer days were far from relaxing and light-years from anything resembling fun.
They were instead spent minding my siblings, making meals for them, doing assignments, helping them with their assignments, and keeping them safe and entertained until my parents came home, at which time we were “tested” on said school work. I remember there being very little downtime.
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I could not wait to go back to school in September. I daydreamed about seeing my friends again—friends who I knew were at camps, at the pool, out riding their bikes together . . . without me. Ironically, for me, the fall signaled freedom, socializing again, and being able to breathe and relax, finally. School was a cakewalk compared to what I had to handle and manage during the seemingly interminable 10 weeks between grades.
So be delighted that your children rejoice at the thought of summer, that they can’t wait to trade in their school packs for pool towels. Appreciate the meaning behind why they count down the days. It is a healthy mindset and a positive reflection of your parenting. Don’t take your little one’s warm weather glee for granted because the truth is not every kid will happily eschew school for summer break.
Summer is not a break for every child.
It is not synonymous with “fun in the sun” for everyone. But if it is, it is a great thing. If it is, you’re doing something right as a parent. You are letting them be what they are . . . kids.
Your child complaining about school and craving the lazy days of summer should be music to your ears because it means they are living normal—in the greatest sense of the word—lives, spending those few precious months unwinding, decompressing from the academic pressures of the last nine months, making lasting memories with friends, exploring simple adventures, learning in non-academic, more carefree, outside-the-box ways. That is what summers should be about.
That is what I vowed from an early age my own kids would experience.
Both my guys are involved in summer sports, so there may be some light scheduling involved, but they love it, so that is on their terms, not mine. If it were up to me, there would be zero schedules, but I realize the whole point is that summers are not up to me; they are up to them.
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So as the weather heats up, as neighborhood trees cast shorter and later shadows, as teachers wrap up the year and backpacks become lighter, I, as an adult, also look forward to the next few months. I look forward to seeing my boys do nothing and revel in the incredible ease and leisureliness that should be at the core of every child’s summer. I look forward to finding joy in their idleness, to seeing sun-kissed cheeks and sun-bleached bedheads. I look forward to watching the stress of the school year fall away, to driving them to the pool, to the pond, to a friend’s house, to a ballpark. Or to nowhere at all.
I look forward to reliving my lost youth, but, most importantly, I look forward to watching them not sabotage theirs.