Thursday, February 22, 2001

Vacation elation

The kids are out of school this week, and they just keep asking, "Why?" Why can't we go? Why is the school closed? Why aren't the teachers there? I tell them that the teachers really need a week off from all the kids, but they're not buying it.

There was a time when I'd be asking "Why?" too. Why do we need a whole week off just a month and a half after Christmas break and a month and a half before Spring break? Why do schools believe that kids can have their year chopped up like that and still learn? Why do they think parents can drop everything and provide care for their kids during hours they've depended on them being in school? I'll be the first to admit that people who deal with kids deserve breaks, but what are weekends for? At least the teachers are paid to kid wrangle. Parents do it for free, and we never get a vacation.

This time around, though, I'm just enjoying the freedom. Freedom from homework. Freedom from making lunches in the morning. Freedom from dragging kids out of bed, through breakfast, and into the car. Freedom from drilling test material into my daughter's head. Freedom from wondering what my son's behavior chart will look like. Freedom from drop-offs and pick-ups. Ah, sweet freedom.

School vacations -- when we haven't actually planned a trip, when the kids are just going to be hanging around and underfoot -- have always seemed like a burden, but this year, when we are working so hard day and night with our daughter to keep her afloat in mainstream third-grade, it seems like a release. Of course, we're supposed to be working with her throughout the week, looking at her next reading story and next math chapter. But if we just float along on a cloud of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel for a few days, who's to know? No hurry, no worry, there's plenty of time.

I have been making her read a couple of chapters from a book with me every night. The current volume is that classic of children's literature, "Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen in 'Billboard Dad,'" a novelization of their Academy Award-winning film. Not. I should be worried that although she can read the words, she has absolutely no idea whatsoever where the story is going or what it's about. Not that the plot's so worth following in this case, but does she understand the words she reads at all? I'll think about that next week.

Or couldn't they just make vacation last a little longer?

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