Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Slide

Summer is that carefree time of year when kids dream of doing nothing for days on end, and parents can sit around thinking of ways to make them work. After 10 months of cramming their brains with more information than they'll ever be able to use in one lifetime, my sons are ready to bike ride, play at the lake, swim with friends, play video games and veg out. But I have to be careful, apparently, to avoid the 'summer slide.'

It sounds like a water ride, like something fun. In fact it's just a term crazy, type-A parents developed to describe the actual relaxation of their children's brains over the summer months. Fearing their brilliant offspring will forget everything but their first names once they're out of school, parents send their kids to tutors, summer classes, and have workbooks out for daily summer drilling.

I, on the other hand, prefer to give my kids ways to think outside the classroom that's actually fun. Figuring out what animals the clouds look like. Helping me measure ingredients for making cookies. Stirring the Jello in the hot water and pontificating on what makes it melt. Picking out dinner recipes and then calculating how much of each ingredient we'll need if we are cutting the recipe in half.

This led me to start thinking along other lines, and I came up with what type of food each of my kids would be. Ben, who will throw a tantrum when told he can't have a milkshake with his cupcake, will--if ignored--tell me minutes later how much he loves me while making a ridiculous face in my rear-view mirror. Or he will yell at his brother for taking his magazine in the car, and then when Jacob says "I'm bored," will suggest they fight. Then he'll close his eyes and wave both hands up and down like he's ready to have a slap-battle all by himself, making his brother and me burst out laughing.

So I would say that if he were a food, Ben would be a sweet and sour meatball.

Jacob is a bit tougher. He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve the way his brother does. He'll walk around looking pensive, but ask him what's on his mind and he'll say 'nothing.' He's a big fan of bland textures and flavors, but has days when he'll burst into song, or try a new food or task without being asked. There's a lot more to him than meets the eye, and I'm always walking a fine line between over- and under-estimating him. But he's also very even keel, without the illogical outbursts his brother subjects me to on a daily basis.

Yes, I decided, Jacob is a plain donut with strawberry jelly inside. Average looking on the outside, but hiding much more than you'd expect on the inside.

OK, so I guess we're doing more 'thinking outside the ice-box' than really getting creative. My kids' brains may slide this summer, but at least they'll have lots of fun stories to share when they go back to school.

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