Every June, I make an elaborate list of activities I plan to do with my kids over the summer (a mental list, not a written list…let’s not get crazy). If the list had a title, it would probably be something like, “Overly ambitious plans to educate and enrich my children make me feel like a great mom, and keep me from flushing expensive electronic devices down the toilet.”
One of those grand plans was to visit numerous museums and historic sites in our area. We live outside of Philadelphia, so we are fortunate to have a wealth of fantastic cultural attractions for families. The other day, I announced that we would be taking a day trip to the art museum (or as my son refers to it, “the place where Rocky ran up the steps”). My kids were excited to go (because it’s the place where Rocky ran up the steps), so it wasn’t difficult motivating them to join me.
However, we never made it to the museum, because as we were traveling to the city, my daughter spotted a sign for the Eastern State Penitentiary—”the world’s first true penitentiary”—which is no longer in use, but is open for tours for parents who want to scare the Milk Duds out of their young children.
I agreed that we could “pop in” before heading to the art museum. Just a quick visit, I said…
Three disturbing hours later, we emerged from the penitentiary, bought a soft pretzel on the street from a random guy (I’m not even sure if he was officially selling pretzels) and headed home.
So did our kids learn about the difference between Impressionism and Realism as I had planned? Did they experience Pop Art as I had anticipated? No. But they did learn what “solitary confinement” and “death row” mean, along with “gangster” and “life sentence.” Good stuff. And FYI, as far as creepy, dilapidated penitentiaries go, Eastern State rocks. Oh, and years ago, a prisoner had painted a few murals on the walls of the chaplain’s office, so the kids were exposed to art after all. Whew…check that one off the list!
This got me thinking about some of the other big “plans” I made in June and how I’ve quietly revised them as we head into the final month of summer. Here are a few examples:
New and exotic foods!
June Plan: Let’s familiarize ourselves with the wonders of quinoa and the excitement of Swiss chard! And forget chicken nuggets and fries, there’s no better time to explore the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
Let’s read the classics!
June Plan: Treasure Island! Moby Dick! Little House on the Prairie!
August Revision: …or the soon to be classics!
Math can be fun!
June Plan: Weekly review of major concepts, complete with workbooks and online games.
August Revision: What’s 9×8? How about 8×9? We good?
Volunteer…it’s what we do.
June Plan: Hmmm…I wonder if there is a soup kitchen or a retirement community that is looking for summer volunteers.
August Revision: Quick, run up and hold the door open for that sweet old lady!
Organization? How about OrganizaFUN!
June Plan: Let’s de-clutter, organize and redecorate those bedrooms!
August Revision: Seriously, can you please just flippin’ make your bed today?
Projects, projects, projects!
June Plan: Finally, time to start an engaging new hobby! How about sewing? Project Runway, here we come.
Every night is family night!
June Plan: Board games, puzzles and sing-alongs!
August Revision: How about we all watch TV in the same room tonight?
Summer of 2015 is practically in the books, but Summer of 2016? Big plans in the works. BIG. First on the list: that museum where Rocky ran up the steps.