My children, like nearly all children that attend school, I imagine, were beside themselves excited for school to end. No matter how much I tried to explain that while the routine of school may have felt oppressive at times, that routine, that built in time with friends and daily specials and learning new things every day would be missed, they didn’t believe me. When I was seven, I wouldn’t have believed me either.
Now here we are, midsummer, and my middle child is longing for that structure. He is constantly asking what will be happening next; what is the plan? (I see spreadsheets in his future.) While having no structure sounds appealing in the short term, long term, it stales and turns to poison. We need some predictable combination of work, play and rest.
The same kid who started flopping around like a fish whenever I mentioned reading practice during the school year is now eager to read whatever I put in front of him. He needs work. Work makes us feel calm. It gives us a sense of achievement. Without it, we are uneasy and restless and no amount of t.v. watching or video game playing makes that feeling go away. The only thing that does is a consistent series of “I did that” moments.
When I tell people that I gave up my part time nursing position, a lot of them say, “It must be so great not to work.” It is great not to work for someone else, but to really not work at all would be a depressing life to envy. Work is what gives our lives purpose. How awful would it be to feel like you didn’t have one?
I think that is how my son is feeling. Sadly. Much as he is probably (definitely) not quite old enough to understand that the chores I’m giving him are helping him to feel better, I can see that they do. The fact that I get help with dishes and laundry is really just a bonus.
As a mother I want my kids to be happy, of course, but I would never wish a life of leisure on them. I believe in order to be happy you have to move your body, engage your mind, and get things done. Throw in a sprinkling of strong relationships and you have a recipe for lifelong contentment.
There is a reason back to school time is so magical and it isn’t the fresh new school supplies. Although, I’m pretty sure they dust those things with some sort of opiate because they sure have an effect on me. It is the fresh start, the dawning of a new adventure, and the eagerness to get back to work. The break for mom, well, that is just another bonus.
I like to throw things.