Summer Break Can Be Over Any Time Now, Thanks

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 
Rita Templeton

Don’t get me wrong: there are great things about summer break. Like … uh …

Um …

Okay, like the fact that it’s almost over. Because I’m so over it.

I hear a spoon clinking against the side of a bowl that’s almost certainly full of cereal, which I’m almost positive will be abandoned somewhere besides the kitchen, leaving me to yell – for the umpteenth time this week – “WHO HAD CEREAL AND LEFT THE DAMN BOWL?” But the bowl isn’t the only thing that’s left. I’m sure the cereal box is still on the counter, open, and maybe even the milk. Because as bored as my kids claim to be, they sure as hell don’t want to occupy their time with trivial things such as cleaning up after themselves.

Our garage is filled with bikes and scooters. Their rooms are filled with various electronics. Their closets are overflowing with toys, and their bookshelves are groaning under the weight of a library worth of books. Despite all this, they slump around and insist that they have “nothing to do.” So they fill their time with arguments over stupid stuff, like who’s better at doing the dances from Fortnite and who left the toilet full of unflushed turds … again. If five minutes could elapse without being punctuated by shouts, shoves, or me screaming “JUST LEAVE! YOUR BROTHER! ALONE!” that would be great. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting.

A better and more patient mom would be armed with a roster of fun summer break activities to keep the boredom at bay. But that involves … crafting. And projects. And messes. And things like this always seem to backfire, like the time I super-glued my own fingers to my pants.

I’d like to say I encourage them to put down the screens and engage in creative play, but “creative play” translates into finding new and innovative ways to make messes, like when they decided to climb onto the top bunk and line their ceiling fan blades with tiny wadded-up pieces of paper, then turned it on to make it “snow.” Or when they quietly attempted to concoct slime, using all but a dribble of my freaking name-brand detergent.

Every good intention I had at the beginning of summer has flown out the window, and any structure I vowed to keep has dissolved into chaos. We haven’t done anything classified as “educational” in … I don’t know, a month? (Sorry, teachers.) My house is a screen time free-for-all, and the notion of having three distinct meals has pretty much been replaced by one long, continuous snack (of questionable nutritional value, at that). I have to stop and consider how many days it’s been since they’ve properly bathed – thoroughly, with soap, not involving a pool or a garden hose. I don’t recall the last time anybody wore anything that matched. They wanna wear a pair of Christmas pajama pants that are so short they look like clam-diggers? Whatever.

The constant ding-donging of the doorbell sounds like the chime of a cash register, since it means there are neighborhood kids contributing to my astronomical food bill and letting all the AC out. I don’t even know how it’s humanly possible for a handful of children to mow through a Costco-sized box of cheap popsicles in two and a half days, but here we are. Out of popsicles.

Thanks to this artificially-colored, non-GMO, unhygienic, mind-numbing “break,” my Mom Guilt is at an all-time high, exceeded only by my desire to keep things low maintenance. I just don’t have enough energy to be a fully-conscientious mother and maintain my sanity 24-7. And by “maintain” I mean “keep from completely losing my shit.”

At this point, I fantasize about dropping them off at their various school buildings with backpacks full of food and saying, “Okay kids! Just wait here, the doors will be opening in … a little bit,” and then burning out.

Even though summer break gives me the chance to let things slide, school means a schedule to keep. It means a routine that we all fall into. Yeah, it means the stress of getting everyone up, dressed, fed, and out the door, but that’s a small price to pay. Because afterward comes the blissful freedom from the sounds of cartoons and bickering and “There’s nothing to doooo!” and “There’s nothing to eeeeat!” and the blips and bleeps of video games. At least for a few precious, re-energizing hours of the day.

I love and adore my children, but please — PLEASE — right now, I’d love and adore them to go back to school. I’m a much better mom when I’ve had a breather, and right now I’m suffocating in summer togetherness. Let this last little bit of break be short lived, so I can return to the predictable daily agenda, and send them off to get the good education they deserve.

And then cry because the house seems so empty when they’re gone.

Damn kids.

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