Summertime livin’ ain’t easy

You know the kids are home on summer break when you start running out of the food you bought yesterday.

Last week, I went to the cupboard in search of a sweet treat for dessert, and found Thing 1 and Thing 2, who had been out of school less than 36 hours, already had devoured the entire box of snack cakes I had purchased the day before.

Parents, this is the summer of our discontent.

Don’t get me wrong, summer has its benefits. For example, evenings after work no longer involve a daily triathlon of dinnertime, evening activities and homework. “Dad successfully sprinted through the preparation of tonight’s tacos and cleared the hurdle of getting both kids to and from their dance classes on time, but appears to have fallen flat on his face in the math homework component of tonight’s competition.”

I also enjoy getting a three-month reprieve from the nightly battle of bedtime. Judge Dad needed a lengthy recess from listening to Claire and Drew make like Clarence Darrow, eloquently arguing that their bedtime constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. “Clearly, dear father, being put to bed against our will represents tyranny of the first order, and we demand redress of our grievances.”

Keep in mind, though, that the mercies we gain by night come at a high cost by day. During the school year, the kids are occupied for seven hours a day and not allowed use of telephones. The instant summer vacation starts, so do the calls from home. As unproductive as they become, working parents might as well take the summer off--but then they’d have nowhere to hide from the kids.

“Dad, I can’t find my shoes. Dad, we’re soooooo bored. Dad, can you come home and make us grilled cheese sandwiches? Dad, if I can prove my brother is annoying, can I get away with beheading him and calling it justifiable homicide?”

Perhaps the most alarming sign of summer break greets me every day upon my return home from work. As I open the door to see clothing and foodstuffs strewn all over the floor, I fly into a panic. “The house has been ransacked! Have the children been kidnapped? Was there an earthquake? A category F5 tornado?”

As I reach the living room, I see no one else is alarmed. There are Claire and Drew, prostrate on couches, watching television as they try to overcome the afternoon’s snack cake overdose.

THEM: “Hey Dad, what are you doing?”

ME: “Deciding whether to make you two clean the house or just light a match and be done with it.”

We’re only a few days into summer vacation, because the Winter That Ate Spring pushed back the schedule a bit. Perhaps things will improve once we settle into the summertime routine. Plus, some of the aforementioned problems just might solve themselves. Those same children claiming boredom clearly have time and energy for a vigorous house scrubbing.

But I’m no wicked stepmother. I’ll reward their hard work with a sweet treat. Perhaps a snack cake, if there are any left in the cupboard.

Follow the columnist on Twitter @ben_bromley or you can contact him at bbromley@capitalnewspapers.com. A former Lillie Suburban Newspapers editor, he now writes for the Baraboo News Republic.

 

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