Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nine Days in Summer - Day 9 - Summer is Over

This is the finale in a nine-part series, one part for each consecutive day I'll be home on a vacation from work. "Vacation" in a corporate American-ish sense means I'll still be checking in, checking e-mails, and doing all sorts of work-related things, except without having to put pants on, but with small people draped on me. This is what we do for the week plus before school starts back up again, my wife goes back to teaching kindergarten, and all Hell breaks loose: the entire house blows up in its own clutter: (sorry, Elmore.)

Almost as long and just as tedious as Shogun and the Thorn Birds combined, now the unforgivable conclusion to Nine Days in Summer.

Day 9:
With summer drawing to a close, it's time to get back to the school routine. There are many parents out there who can't WAIT to get back to the school year for the routine, the structure, and the getting rid of the kids for half the day.

But I'm not really looking forward to it.  It's routines that cause the years to run by so fast and leave you trailing the field, wondering what just happened the last fifteen years. Everything in life gets taken for granted when it's part of a routine. There's no room for variety in a routine. You can't decide you're staying in your pajamas all day as part of a routine. You can't decide to watch anything but the morning news when you've developed a morning routine. Every time you hit the snooze button you put the routine at risk. You can't spell "routine" without R-U-T.

The routine, however, is a necessary evil. It focuses us so that we can drop the kids off at daycare seconds before they quit serving the kids breakfast, so we can show up to work only a half hour late instead of our customary 3 hours. Kids need a routine in life to establish consistency, reduce unknowns, and get on a schedule. Especially if that schedule involves going to bed before Monday Night Football.

And it could be so much worse. The spouse of a teacher is not at all a bad gig, because most of the things that people complain about teachers work to your advantage. And you don't have to deal with other people's kids like the teachers themselves do. They get out of work early enough to pick up the kids and see them through the daily transition from "best behavior" to "hungry, wild jackals." By the time you come home, and if you listen to the entire block of Led Zeppelin in the driveway, the kids will be fed and bathed and all you have to do is go find a neighbor to talk to for five minutes before they hit the bed. Then you get to swoop in and kiss them good night. (I kid.)

Then there are the three months off in the summer. Which is a myth. With schools here getting out mid-June and starting mid-August, it's down to two months. (Boo-hoo.) Teachers go back earlier than ever before, and nobody really knows what goes on when teachers are there but kids aren't. Though I think it has something to do with administrators pushing teachers to get all of their kids in the top 50% of their own class.

The downside of course is that because America still treats its teachers like third-class citizens, the dream of ever being a stay-at-home dad is nil. But even that cloud has a silver lining: I've never dreamt of being a stay-at-home dad anyway. I'd never find enough for them to do. We'd eat marshmallow crème and chocolate fudge sandwiches for lunch every day. We'd play board games and video games and never get anything productive accomplished. Basically, every day would be a Saturday morning. At least until all the kids are in school, and after that the marshmallow crème would be all mine. So I guess there is a considerable downside.

Summer is over, and it's only the adults who are sad. The kids will put up a mild fuss about having to go to day care, but in the end, because we've gotten them back into a routine, they'll be fine. We parents are the ones who will miss not changing out of our pajamas all day.

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