Summer vacation's about a week away for us. Boy, do I remember how I used to dread this part of the year. I so valued the routine of school, the way it occupied the time of kids who could not for the life of them occupy themselves at home. The end of the school year meant a transfer of expectation for time-filling to me, and as much as I loved spending time with my kiddos, oh my gosh, it was a lot of time to fill.
These days, at ages 18 and 21, maybe the most joyous part of their development for me has been their ability to keep themselves busy. Terrible thing to say, maybe, but hoo boy, if you have a kid who requires your attention everysingleminute, perhaps you can sympathize with how blessed I feel. And maybe you'll forgive me for admitting that it's TV and computers and iPads and iPods that are doing the amusing.
I know, I know, they're supposed to be reading and hiking and having grand adventures and small personal revelations inspired by exposure to art and music and culture. Mm-hmm. I've tried to get my daughter to sample iBooks, but sadly, her hatred of reading spans all platforms. I like to think that the hours my son pores over creating playlists in iTunes has some cultural value. He's unbelievably eclectic in his tastes. I'll bet there aren't too many teenagers buying songs from Kanye West and Oscar the Grouch in the same 24 hours. I leave him to his work.
My kids have had summer jobs through a special-needs workforce training program in our area since each turned 14, so there's some skill-building and life-experience-gaining in six or so of their summer weeks. They earn some money to save and some to do with what they want, and that's the way I think of summer time, too -- some you should just get to waste, especially if you can do so without your mom having to figure out how to waste it for you.
Where once school was our place of refuge and structure and routine and predictability, I'm now kinda glad to see classes conclude, since that marks the end of nights spent on homework and mornings rising early and anxiety over whether we can make it through the whole year without a disaster. Ahhh, summer. Come September, my son will be a high-school senior and my daughter will be moving out of remedial college classes into harder work, but for now ... everybody find a screen!
Terri Mauro blogs at About.com Parenting Special Needs and Parenting Isn't Pretty. She has two terrific kids, a 21-year-old with learning and language disabilities and an 18-year-old with FASD, both adopted from Russia in 1994.