Children thrilled that school's out for the summer

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Our kids are thrilled. School's out for the summer.

Our oldest daughter, Becca, loves the summer. "You don't have to think," she tells me.

She clearly sees it as a brain rest, a vacation from homework and backpacks.

Both Becca, age 10, and our youngest daughter, Bailey, age 6, view summer as a chance to stay up late and sleep late.

"I like everything about it," Bailey tells me.

Both kids have been camping out recently in our living room rather than sleeping upstairs in their bedrooms. They view this as fun, particularly Bailey who has dragged all her stuffed animals into the living room, along with numerous covers and a sleeping bag.

It makes it hard to navigate through the living room at times. Joni and I hope their latest sleeping habit won't last all summer.

Some things, however, won't change. Bailey, who spent all school year bringing home pretty rocks from the playground, will continue to collect rocks. She's sure to find a few in our yard.

Of course, we're beginning to run out of places to put all the rocks. We set free the butterflies we raised, but it's not so easy liberating rocks.

Bailey loves the outdoors. She'd camp out there all summer if we would let her.

Parents can tell when summer's approaching without looking at a calendar. When our kids start bringing home all that saved up artwork, class journals and the like, you know the year's about over.

Play Day and the spring concert are other signs that tell us when summer vacation is nearly here.

Summer is a great time for kids, who view it as freedom from a schedule.

For working parents, it's just a different schedule. It means making baby-sitting or day-care arrangements. Someone has to watch the kids, contrary to what they might think.

Keeping the house clean is always a bigger chore in the summertime. There's more time for them to mess up their rooms and any other space they come in contact with.

It's a good thing our house isn't run by a computer or it would be overloaded by the chaos of childhood.

The international space station recently shut down life-support and scientific equipment for three hours, apparently because of bad computer data.

If they ever put kids on the space station, it will really have a computer overload.

Computers are amazing, but they've yet to design one that can keep up with my kids or anyone else's.

Even Spider-Man would be hard pressed to keep kids entertained all summer. What would we do if we didn't have computer games, television and movies to keep us entertained.

For one thing, Bailey would be bringing me more rocks.

Becca would spend more time on the phone talking to her friends. She's already got the phone glued to her ear many nights.

Whatever we do this summer will certainly be nicer because of air conditioning. We'd have banned summer long ago or moved to Norway if it weren't for air conditioning.

We love our creature comforts, even Bailey. She may be a poster child for Mother Nature, but she likes watching TV cartoons and the cool of an air-conditioned home after she's been running around outside, climbing trees and getting up-close-and-personal with leaves and sticks.

Our kids wouldn't like spending the summer stuck in a wilderness cabin with no running water, electricity or chicken nuggets like those families did on the PBS series, "Frontier House."

Fortunately, they don't have to. Becca and Bailey still can view summer as a great escape.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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