Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Summer Enrichment My Ass

Dear WTMs, I have used mild profanity in the title of the this blog post. This should alert you all to the possibility that I am going on a rant in today's blog post. Please exit the blog post immediately if you have a problem with my rants and if you possibly have a problem with some very low grade profanity (like the word ASS). With that disclaimer out of the way, please read on. The topic today is the SUMMER ENRICHMENT of my precious children. I am on this topic as I am getting phone calls from various mothers (muffia AND non-muffia) and summer lesson providers about summer activities. White Trash Readers: Did YOUR mom give a rat's ass about what you did for the summer? Because I will tell you right now, that my mom did not. I can remember getting some tennis lessons and had some art lessons. The rest of every summer I can remember from my childhood was spent messing around with my friends, riding my bike and going to the pool.
  • I did not take summer enrichment seminars
  • I did not have daily lessons with expensive instructors on how to do UNDERWATER BASKETWEAVING
  • I did not have a list of daily, scheduled activities for my summer vacation
By today's standards, my mom was depriving me of a normal childhood. My childhood summer schedules were a virtual wasteland by modern standards. It's a wonder I turned out okay (writing a blog called White Trash Mom and owning a store called White Trash Palace not withstanding). It is early May and I am being bombarded by people that already have their children in 17 activities and lessons for the summer. God forbid I don't get my 8 year old into the soccer camp in June----she might not be able to keep up with the other frickin' third graders next year! It's going to be the end of the world if I don't get my 12 year old into that special math tutor because SATs are going to be here before we know it! As my next door neighbor used to say: JESUS MARY and JOSEPH! It just pisses me off that I am considered lazy or that I am depriving my kids by not providing them with a slew of activities for their "summer enrichment". Doing nothing is not EVIL! Being bored is not the worst thing in the world for kids. We will probably get some Math help this summer. There is Girl Scout camp. We've got some tennis lessons planned. But every fiber of my White Trash Motherhood is against over-booking and scheduling my kids for activities during their break. Are you with me, WTMs? Tell me what you think!


Blogger Blogarita said...

I am 100% with you on this one. We spent our summers like yours, or just playing around the back yard, climbing trees, building forts under the picnic table, etc.

It's a sad situation that kids are so scheduled that they aren't given a chance to use their imagination and just have fun being a kid.

5/09/2006 7:07 PM  
Anonymous MaryB said...


Now, my Dad did work our little brains for an hour or so 4 days a week and taught us all kinds of really cool stuff during our summers as kids. And, he also took us to do some cool "outdoorsy" stuff, and to the library once a week. However, it was all within reason and NOTHING like to kids of today. I can tell you right now that my kids are going to enjoy a lazy, hazy summer! I plan to enjoy it with them!

BTW - when I stumbled on your blog and read your archives,I was afraid I had been blogging in my sleep! GO WTMs!!!

5/09/2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger Legal Quandary said...

The thing I loved about summer vacations was that I *didn't* have all kinds of things to do. Maybe some intense TV watching, a little laying out in the sun with Crisco slathered on (yeah, we actually did that), the occasional weeklong camp or art class, and LOTS of trips to the library, but that was pretty much it. AND I did most of that without adult supervision since both my parents worked. That sort of thing would get your kids taken away in a heartbeat these days.

While I recognize the need for kids not to put their brains to sleep over the break, I still think they need (and deserve) a break. My 11 year old has (self-selected) activities almost every day of the school year. I have no problem with her having a little down time.

Now, if only I could get a little of that...

5/09/2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger AprilMay said...

Both of my duel personalities (teacher and mom) HIGHLY suggest DOWN TIME for ALL kids during the summer! You have to give them a chance to learn how to teach, and entertain, THEMSELVES, lest they grow up to be one of those annoying adults that have no imagination or sense of humor.

On a side note, I think that's the first time I've actually used the word "lest" in a sentence.

5/09/2006 9:02 PM  
Blogger Pickalish said...

I'm with ya! My summer enrichment programs consisted of:

Kick the Can...played until dark, of course

Chasing the ice cream truck

Slip and Slides

Roller skating in the school's parking lot

Man, was I deprived or what????

5/09/2006 9:10 PM  
Blogger Dr.G said...

Ohhh...I am SO feeling you on this one. I feel kinda funny responding to your question to WTMs because I am a black woman, but what the hell, I'm gonna say it anyway...
"I'm with you!"

You already schooled me that being a WTM is not about the stereotype and I get that part, but, what if I really am a Gretchen Wilson fan, actually a country music fan, does that give me ANY trailer park cred? (wink)


5/09/2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Actually, it sounds like you've STILL got a nice amount of stuff going for the kiddos. They'll still have free time to plot what nursing home they'll throw you in some day, at what age you'll be and how they'll ignore/irritate you in your old age. :-)

5/09/2006 9:59 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I agree too. Overbooking your kids only leads to stressed out kids, not ENRICHED kids! Those parents who do the overbooking crap- I think they either thrive on pandemonium and craziness, or they are just trying to impress everyone else by how much they can do and get done by the kids. "ooooh, Johnny takes violin? Well my Mikey takes expert piano, advanced impressionist art, and Latin." Oh boy. Congratulations, you have one bored kid.

5/09/2006 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

I am also with you on this WTM. We have some neighborhood swim team - more about playing cards in the bullpen and eating junk with your friends - than about swimming and some team tennis. That's it. Sleep in, play until dark, go to the lake, hang with friends. The older one works so his summer is a little different now but not so for little sis.
I have the good fortune of being a stay at home mom and we can do this very relaxed schedule. It would be different if I was working.

5/10/2006 4:13 AM  
Blogger Pink Diva said...

i agree, I'm a sahm too, i think the only place we are going is the library,, it's free to do that. Without the free lunch program over the summer i will be spending all my money on food to feed these people so how can afford all those 5 day camps.

5/10/2006 5:15 AM  
Blogger Prom said...

This practice of course started with the families where both parents work outside of the home. It was glorified daycare at the beginning.

Then parents started figuring out that for a bit more money they could get some good creds on their kids CVs to get them into their college of choice.

Or maybe it was those providers of said occupations that convinced them of this.

5/10/2006 5:57 AM  
Anonymous WTA (white trash auntie) said...

I hear ya WTM. While I have no kids of my own to over-schedule, I fondly remember my summers. The whole family would roll out to the lake and STAY there. We could walk into town (2 hour hike) if we got really bored, but with swimming, hiking, waterskiing, kayaking, camping, sailing, picknicking, reading and generally lazing in the sun, who had time to be bored?
I had one week a summer where I was shipped off to camp, but other than that, activities were mostly spur of the moment. I cannot think there was any better way to have spent my childhood.

5/10/2006 6:01 AM  
Blogger queen of wt said...

Thanks for all the comments WTMs! I am glad to know I am not alone in my quest for my kids to having a boring and "non-enriching" summer!

PS to Dr G-WTMs are of all colors, shapes and sizes. WT has less to do with trailer parks and more to do with an attitude of non-conformity with the "muffia" drones! And you get INSTANT cred for listening to either of the two greatest music genres--COUNTRY or WESTERN. You're in.

5/10/2006 6:25 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

My gosh, I feel like I can barely breathe! Too much to think about. I can barely process my own ridiculous summer, and I'm feeling pretty resentful at all of the "things" I should be signing my kids up for, lest I be considered a bad parent. Sigh.

5/10/2006 6:30 AM  
Blogger dariasmama said...

Well, my ass too *L*. If you homeschool your kid you get to deal with this crap all year round, not just for the summer. Why does my 7 year old need karate lessons, dance lessons, 4-H and Girl Scouts to be considered enriched? She doesn't enjoy sports or sweating, why should I force her to play? Why does she have to learn the pack mentality at 7?

We do little things to keep us thinking, but neither mom nor kid is way into organized activity. I want a bumper sticker that says "My Kid Is"

5/10/2006 6:32 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Ooh!! I think I want one of those bumper stickers too! That's brilliant!

I'm not scheduling "enrichment" activities for my (almost) 10 yr old either. He's got cub scout camp and to be honest, that's IT. And why shouldn't it be? He's doing fine at school, he works hard during the school year and has an insane schedule 9 months of the year. Summer is for being a KID. He's got the rest of his life to be stressed out and overscheduled.

5/10/2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger pookariah said...

My sister and I spent our summers at home together, trying not to kill each other. It was fun! Sometimes I went to the public beach - my mom would drop me off on her lunch break and LEAVE ME THERE till she got off work! I had a blast!
I've been reading "Perfect Madness" by Judith (?) Warner. She talks about how our kids are soooooooo overstimulated that they don't even know how to "play alone". Mommy has to be "engaged" with them every waking minute of their lives. Now, I love my 3 year old and want the best for her, but my best isn't exactly someone else's idea of best. I believe that she needs to learn to play alone to be independent (and give me some much needed rest!). I also believe that she needs to challenge her mind to come up with things to do on her own so she doesn't become the typical American malcontent ("I'm bored. Entertain me.") I think that she should have to experience some humility in her lifetime. It wouldn't have hurt me any to have a few extra doses as a child - my Mom tried her best to give me "everything" the other kids had. I realize now that it made me a brat at times, and if she would have withheld a litte bit I would have been better prepared for the harsh reality of adulthood where you don't get everything you want. So my kid is going to hear "No" alot. And now, in my 30's, I look back on my childhood and remember NOT the expensive jeans at the mall or the rest of the "trendy" stuff I had to have. I couldn't recall an item, it's worth, or the day that it was bought for me. I remembered going places with my mom - to the Smoky Mountains for a picnic when we put a watermelon in the cold river to cool, to the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, KY. We drove on back country roads all day, and once there didn't purchase a thing. Going to the local kids museum, which was $2 for admission. We went all the time. It is stuff like that that stuck in my heart, and I realize now I would've liked more time with her and didn't need all that stuff.

And as for summers, I remember best the times I spent playing in the woods behind our house, digging a huge hole in the yard for no reason, riding my bike in circles for HOURS, jump-roping on the porch, and throwing a tennis ball against the side of the house. I went to a day camp and overnight camp a few times, but can barely remember what I did there.

5/10/2006 7:21 AM  
Anonymous hijole said...

I'm with you all the way. In our area, we have year-round schooling (school begins the first week of August, ends the last week of May, with two-week fall, Christmas, and spring breaks). The kids have 8 weeks of summer.

I was listening to two Muffia yesterday discuss their children's summer schedule yesterday and it made me want to cry. One of the moms was very proud that she'd scheduled at least two activities per day for the entire eight weeks.

I'll consider it a successful summer for my 2 and 6 year old if they get messy enough every day to 1) require at least one complete change of clothes and 2) a scrubdown in the wading pool before they come back in the house.

5/10/2006 7:51 AM  
Blogger Sharpie said...

AMEN sister!!!!!!
I opted out of the summer camp that has more than tripled in the last 3 years. We have a pool. We have a big backyard. We have 5 million toys. We're going to use them instead of letting them collect dust like the rest of the year.

5/10/2006 9:45 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I totally agree with you. Summer is for playing outside, and spending it in the car going from activity to activity sounds awful. My kids will do a week with grandparents, and they'll start soccer in late August. Other than that, our days will be filled with popsicle stains, running through the sprinklers, and catching bugs.

5/10/2006 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure summer enrichment was yet another idea from the evil muffia. One local muffia here tends to favor golf camp for her seven year old daughter and a slew of camp and swimming activities and of course EVERY vacation bible school at EVERY church! My own little WT kids are lucky to get a swimming lesson and a VBS or two! Other than that--it's "you have a back yard and a game room--go play!"

5/10/2006 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Kathy B said...

Hey Y'all -

I'm a faithful WTM, but unfortunately, my oldest does have a summer schedule just because I have to skip the sunshine and get my tan via light bulbs. Don't judge me, and please know I wish my kids could play kid the can and rollerskate until dinner, and paying $175 a week so he can find find frogs in the creek isn't my idea of bliss.. but, alas and alak, the paycheck calls.

Hugs and kisses to my WT sisters!

5/10/2006 7:52 PM  
Blogger queen of wt said...

Response to our WT Sister Kathy B's post-I hear you and I too must get my "tan" at certain times in the summer from the wonderful office. Let me just be clear that my rants were centered on those moms that enroll their kids in stuff so that it can be another example of how perfect the family is. The people I was pissy about most definately do not get their tans via office lightbulbs---but it makes me pause and think a bit. Anyway, just wanted to be clear AND wanted to tell you your post made me think a little (no small thing, I assure you).

5/10/2006 8:16 PM  
Blogger Mert said...

I think the reason why so many kids have ADHD today is because of over-scheduling. What ever happened to letting your kids have the summer off? Sheesh. Your kids wont become brain dead just because they play in the comfort of their own backyard for a change. Heaven forbid. Down with the Muffia! :O)

5/11/2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger LLA said...

You are preaching to the choir - I am so right there with you!

Which totally makes me the biggest freak in my mid-town neighborhood filled with granola-making yoga mommies (whose kids are scheduled to the hilt!).
It is possible to live in a Big City and be proudly WT!

5/11/2006 3:24 PM  

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