School's out

The end of the school year can be a tough time for parents.

In the summer months, we parents no longer have a taxpayer-funded place to store our children for seven hours a day. We must find ways to keep the kids safe, fed and amused while we work. We must transport them from place to place in oven-like minivans. We pay more for summer camp than we might pay for tuition at Yale. We must plan a (gulp!) vacation trip with the kids.

But let’s not focus on the complaints. Let’s take a moment to look at the benefits of school-free summers.

No more pencils, notebooks or other school supplies are necessary in summer. Children (especially boys) tend to lose those items repeatedly during the school year, along with their jackets, gloves and random shoes. Replacement costs go way down until fall, when we must completely outfit the students all over again.

No more books other than those of the children’s choosing. I recommend that kids spend as much time as possible in a nice, air-conditioned library.

No more teachers’ dirty looks. Parents suffer just as much as the kids when misbehavior, failing grades or other bad news require teacher meetings throughout the school year. Sure, the kids might still be little vandals during the summer, but your neighbors can’t force a face-to-face meeting the way teachers can. Just don’t answer the doorbell.

No more calls from the principal. (See above paragraph.) Plus, no more of those automated calls where the principal’s disembodied voice informs parents of minimum days, STAR testing, truancies, emergency lockdowns, etc.

No school means no homework which may mean fewer arguments around the house. Instead of standing over the offspring, forcing them to do their homework, we parents can force them to do yard work.

Summer means lots less laundry. Youngsters need to wear fresh clothes to school every day (whether they like it or not), but in summer they can go around in the same swimsuit, T-shirt and flip-flops for days on end. Swimming puts more towels in the mix, but at least those are easy to fold. Since the kids are home for the summer, maybe you can even get them to do the laundry. (Hahaha. Just kidding.)

School-related fundraising comes to a halt in summer. For three months, parents won’t have to foist band candy, bake sales or raffle tickets on their co-workers, neighbors and former friends.

Summer gives children more free time to climb trees, ride bicycles and skateboards, wrestle the family dog and engage in other dangerous activities. This gives parents the opportunity to get re-acquainted with the family doctor, insurance providers and the staffs at local emergency rooms.

(A parenting tip: Remind your children that “Look, Ma, no hands!” is a boast, not a medical condition.)

Most of all, summer vacation means parents can spend more “quality time” with their kids, aside from the hours spent in emergency rooms.

Take the children on a picnic, take them fishing, go to a ballgame, play games together or spend hot afternoons in air-conditioned matinees. Family activities are where memories are made, and summer is the best time for them. The kids will thank you (someday) for devoting your summer months to their welfare and amusement.

One final benefit: The more time the family spends together, the more eager the children will be to return to school next fall.

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