Saturday, August 13, 2011

Panic Time

Long time followers of this blog know that I loathe summer work projects even more than the children do. I think summer is a time when one should discover how to entertain one's self, how to play and structure the day because one wants to enjoy every slow sticky hot moment of it.

The math books are evil and tedious and I should know, I've had to cattle drive my children through the same series for the past nine years.  I tell them that I don't like them either and provide a steady weekly bribe of ice cream for compliance with a minimum of nagging.  We all know math is mostly like served overcooked vegetables, a life experience that sometimes just requires a lot of personal will to endure.   So they don't get too worked up by my nags and I also don't stress that they drag their feet.

Then we got to August and my oldest daughter put down a count down to school.  And I saw that while my kids had handled the math, summer reading had decidedly been put off.  It isn't that they hadn't been reading.  They devour books.  It's just, they hadn't read "the" books.   Finding the assigned titles took about a week. 

Why did it take a week?  At the beginning of summer, I entertained the delusion that my kids would respond to a rational argument. Presenting them with their required texts, I suggested they knock these out the first week.  The books were dutifully taken by my children and dully brought to their rooms, the books were opened, the first pages of the tomes inhaled and promptly discarded when one of the children shouted out, "Hey! Phineas and Ferb are on!" and somehow from that point, summer passed.

So starting on the first of this month, I tried being gentle, easing them back into their responsibilities.  "Have your read today?" wasn't specific enough.  Entire series of Manga, comics, past devoured favorites all counted.  "Have you read ....insert required book here?" got a one word response..."No."  with the follow up if the child was fully awake, "I don't know where it is."

Finally, it became obvious that these sorts of conversations would simply repeat themselves until I located the  necessary books again.  I placed Passage to India, Cricket of Time Square, Touching the Spirit Bear, The Phantom Tollbooth and the Adventures of Flat Stanley on their respective beds and notified their owners. 

They were even grateful. 

So when I sent them off to bed, I felt secure that they would see the book, open it, and reading would start.  Around 10:30, I noticed the lights were still on in two children's rooms. 

Smiling to myself as I climbed the stairs, imagining them lost in literary worlds, I entered my son's room full of benevolence, ready to be pleased as punch that my child was still up.  He'd flipped his bedside table, attached a hot wheel track and was balancing a lacrosse ball on the track and making it go back and forth.  Let us just say, I wasn't amused when he asked if he could stay up a bit later if he read. 

Disturbed, I went to my daughter's room, again hopeful.  Alas, one was busy drawing fairies.  The other plugged into a classic rock station bobbing her head and making a tower of plastic horses.  The books were on the floor. I believe the first words out of my mouth were "RRRRAUGH!"

Downstairs, I saw was lit by a dull electronic glow and sure enough, the child with the least number of summer days left, with the most to read, was watching videos.  Knowing that they don't just have to read these things but produce projects and reports, I'm left with only one option. 

"Children, I know what you're gonna do today. And if you get your projects done this week, we can go to the agricultural fair and get funnel cake." I may be Mom, but I'm much more Phineas and Ferb at heart.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I am laughing as history seems to repeat itself so well.

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