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Newsflash:
Thursday, 21 September 2000

Hanging with The Kids During Summer Vacation

Written by  Sherri Mandell

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By the last week of the summer the mothers in the park were prostrate. I had to revive a friend with smelling salts. The worst heat of the summer. The pool was closed because of problems with unidentified bacteria and other floating matter. The mothers were beside themselves.

They couldn't bear the thought of one day more with the children. One day more of inventing activities.

How many projects can you do with egg boxes and food coloring?

How many projects can you do with egg boxes and food coloring? How many days can you have mud tramped through the house as the kids traipse back and forth into the house from the wading pool? How many days can you feed the children three meals, all before noon? How many baking projects can you manage in the stifling hot kitchen? How many mobiles with wire hangars can you help a child create? How many paper plate faces? How many crayon melts in the oven?

There are always some mothers who enjoy summer. They say, "But it was so relaxed. No homework. No school. We just hang out."

When they say things like that I feel very guilty. Then I want to wring their necks.

I would like to take one of these mothers to my house and let her spend the day with my children and then see what she had to say. Maybe she could turn them into relaxed children who just like to hang out.

I doubt it.

Those mothers must have a different species of child. Homo relaxus. My kids are homo eruptus.

Hanging out for my kids means pulling the arms off of their action figures, writing with permanent marker on the tables and floors, climbing on top of dressers and jumping to see if they can break the floor, slamming doors, and missing the toilet when they pee.

I know what you're thinking. But I do discipline them. It's just that four young children can create a lot of havoc.

Then there are those other mothers. The ones who take their children on outings almost every day. And enjoy it. They must have perfected some car etiquette that I seem to be missing. The thought of driving in traffic with my kids screaming for water, food, a different seat, and bathroom stops makes me sweat behind my knees.

If you're one of those mothers who sends her kids to camp for eight full weeks -- and sees them one day over the summer -- don't even tell me. I cannot be your friend. I am too envious.

What a dream. It would be like being newlyweds. Dinners without ketchup. Life without apple juice. TV without Pokemon. It would be so quiet. I would be too relaxed.

Sure I would miss the kids. But when they returned, would I be able to let them back in the house?

Thank God - - the summer has ended.

Now they're back in school. When they return in the afternoon, I'm thrilled to see them. It's like they've been away for months.

Now I know the real reason for summer - - to make me appreciate my kids the rest of the year.

Last modified on Tuesday, 26 April 2011 13:15
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Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell has a Master's degree in Creative Writing and has taught writing at the University of Maryland and Penn State University. She is the author of the book Writers of the Holocaust. She has written articles for the Washington Post. She is married with four children

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