Written by Red Apple School Director, Lisa Holley
I have a confession. I have been “that mom”. You know her, the one who plans an amazing summer full of lists that include organizing the silverware drawer, cleaning our every closet and cleaning the tile grout with a toothbrush so it will sparkle for the first time ever. Those of you who know me well will chuckle at this list because it doesn’t really fit my personality, or lack of organizational skills. I was also the mom who decided each summer that my kids WILL continue their education throughout the summer and they will LIKE it! We were going to have a quiet hour of reading each day and I swore we would practice those math facts BEFORE playing a video game or going to the pool. You see, I have three kids who are 19 months apart and I was afraid that they would lose every single thing they learned during the year if I did not enforce all of these stringent rules. I can hear some of you giggling now…because you have been there.
I did great that first week of summer enforcing all of my rules and continually letting my precious offspring know that they would not fall behind this summer and would thank me for it come August! These were my plans and I thought I was going to be a super mom for enforcing these rules. Then, the most wonderful thing happened each year about the 10th day of summer. I got tired of the stringent rules. My kids were tired of the rules from Day 1. I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t have reading time or that we didn’t do math facts, but we also stayed up REALLY late and we slept in…A LOT. Instead of cleaning the grout with a tooth brush, I mopped it quickly or used a wet towel and went over the floor while scooting with my feet, because spray sunscreen was soaked into every crevice.
Guess what?? They didn’t fall behind and they started off the year successfully because they were rested and they had a break from all the demands that they must face September through May. Don’t get me wrong, we cleaned, we learned and we had quiet time….but we also had lots of fun. We took car trips and listened to Junie B. Jones instead of watching a movie in our van. We counted cows and even yelled at the cows out the window. I am not crazy and this is something you should all try at least one time with your children. If you yell “HEY COW” at the top of your lungs out the window, cows will turn around and look at you! The winner is the person who got the most cows to look at him or her. Counting cows can be considered math, right? We read things they knew how to read like the Walmart sign, grocery list, the “Open and Close” signs at the pool. We calculated how much it would cost to do different things and planned activities accordingly. I desperately looked for ways that taught them to serve. Summer is a great time for this! Luckily, I go to a church that offered them many opportunities to help others.
Move ahead ten years…my oldest son is graduating from high school in less than two weeks, and pardon my proud mama moment, but he is graduating in the top 10% of his class. Much of this is in spite of me, and is due to good genes that he inherited from my husband. I pray that we have instilled good work habits in him. I pray that we have instilled a curiosity for learning that will go with him this fall to Texas A&M. I pray that we have taught him how to serve and how to look after others. And yes, I pray that we have taught him how to clean (I am not so sure about this one)☺ But, I also pray that he will remember all those summers we spent time together doing the fun things. I hope and pray that he will remember the Cow Game and the summer midnight movie premiers that we attended – there were lots of them. I hope he will remember the time that we drove to the Toys R Us across town at midnight so that he could use his chore money (that we calculated) to purchase the latest and greatest Star Wars toy! I pray that he remembers the hours at the pool and how brave he was to jump off the diving board and to go down the “high slide”. I pray he thinks about the very hot day at Fiesta Texas when he rode his first roller coaster. I pray he remembers staying up late and sleeping in. Most of all, I pray he remembers how very much we love him and his brother and sister. I pray that he remembers that love being shown to him during the time he was at school, but also while we spent a lot of time having a lot of fun during those brief summer months.
I know you will have fun with your children this summer. Yes, have chores and practice skills, but use this time to build deeper and closer relationships with them! Pray with them!! Make memories. Stay up late. Read to them. Do things that will make you dreadfully tired the next day! Before you know it, your children will be graduating from high school and you will be the one praying that your child will take all these memories with them. It happens faster than you can possibly imagine!