It’s summer vacation for all those little kiddos out there, and they couldn’t be more excited.
It’s the 22nd week of the year for the rest of us working stiffs, and we couldn’t more routinely bored.
When those two mix up, it’s a challenge for any parent. While children appreciate being out of school, they don’ t realize how much they appreciated having a regular schedule and someone whose job was to make sure they stayed busy throughout the day.
We always take our out-of-state summer vacation the first few days after school lets out. It gives us a jump on other schools and states that let their children out a little later than we do. It also gives us something exciting to look forward to as a family, as the 21st week of the year doesn’t inspire as much enthusiasm in adults as the end of the school year does the kids.
But now we’re past that, and we’ve already heard our 8-year-old utter that hideous five-letter word that begins with B… BORED.
I don’t recall ever uttering that word as a child, for fear of my parents hearing it and giving me one of those daylong chores we dreaded, such as moving everything out of the garage, cleaning the garage and then putting everything back in nicely. No thank you, we’d think. We’d invent our own fun, sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors.
Alas, my children apparently aren’t as resourceful and creative as my siblings and me were back in the 1980s. Left to their own devices, they’d stare at their own devices all day long. (To be fair, that’s probably what I’d resort to doing if I had a few extra days off in a row too.)
When our 8-year-old told me she was bored last weekend, I told her she needed to have a summer full of challenges. Keep them less than 30 minutes, I reasoned. She looked at me with enthusiasm, which is not the look she usually gives me when I suggest she should make her own fun.
“What kind of challenges?” she asked, always up for something competitive with her 9-year-old sister.
“Anything,” I replied. “Who can run around the house fastest? Who can make up the funniest song? Who can put the most crackers in her mouth?”
She told me it was a great idea. Our soon-to-be fourth- and fifth-graders decided they’ll film it too, in hopes of achieving YouTube stardom. The summer of challenges was set!
Little did I know the first challenge will always be mine. In true form, they’re expecting me to give them the challenges each morning, Monday through Friday. This was unclear to me, who thought they’d make up their own dares, until around 9 a.m. the Monday of Memorial Day, when I heard them ask for their daily challenge for the dozenth time.
So now the challenge begins, not just for them but for me. How many age-appropriate challenges can one dad design? How long do I have to wait before repeating a basic idea before they realize I’m cheating? And most importantly, how can I make basic household tasks sound like a challenge. (Spoiler alert: One of this week’s will be “Who can fold the most socks in five minutes?”) I’m hoping some of our loyal readers will inundate my email with ideas.
So begins the summer of challenges. Here’s hoping other parents’ summers can be a tad less challenging than mine has proven to be so far.