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Summer Makes Them Smarter

Yes, he has taken to going through many of our trashcans and removing things deemed treasures. This is stuff like used straws, y'all. That were never his. Gum wrappers, frizzled yarn, tape coated with dirt and crumbs. #nottreasures
08/17/2015 03:18pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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Well, it's that time of summer again. The time at which most of my friends' kids have gone back to school and we are just leaving for our family vacation. We have four.weeks.left. people. FOUR.

In this snail race to the finish, I am again of the mind that year-round school is a terrific idea for so many reasons:

  • no summer "melt" when your kids forget everything they just spent 9 months learning
  • no "what day is it today" blank-face stares because their regular schedule left with the last school bus back in June and their brains are haywire now
  • no wild-eyed fatigue of their continued bickering about who gets your bathtub and whether or not each person takes his own head off the toothbrush or is allowed to leave it standing: they have too much time on their hands

Enough already.

Last August 14 (funny how without planning a matched date, I started writing this in the same week, one year later) I wrote a post about all the ways in which summer makes kids smarter. This summer is no exception, people. Here you go; you're welcome.

I knew things were really coming along when I suggested a very inspired, if I say so myself, art project in which the kids would sketch in their art journals, all the things they loved about summer. Jack, my oldest son, went for the gold, and I was thrilled.

Then I spied it: SUMER.
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Amazing. This fourth grader is ON IT, people. He loves sumer and all it involves!

Oliver, my youngest, drew this masterpiece. I don't think his sophisticated work needs much explanation.
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After a week of playing "Boujad and Piney: Where Did He Go?" an inane game that involved Piney (Oliver) walking around with a weird, butt-out posture and asking in an odd baby'ish voice, "Where is Boujad (Jack)? Where did he go?" it was, mercifully, time for Camp Calleva.

Oh to be in my quiet home for hours and hours while they were blissfully outdoors, kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding and shooting bows and arrows. They burned loads of energy every day and came home filthy, bedazzled with all manner of woodland ornament.
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It was all really wonderful except that it's made me seriously ponder two somewhat terrifying questions:

Will Jack ever show interest in being clean? And, will he ever successfully bathe himself?
Is Oliver a hoarder?

Q1: Jack's feet, neck and hands were about nine shades darker than his torso and thighs. His face looked like he'd cobbled together camo paint from natural sources. Dust and degraded plant matter snowed from his hair whenever he sneezed or nodded with even the slightest gusto. And yet he insisted, with a somewhat feral growl, "I am not dirty, Mom." Did he lose his eyesight at camp? Does he not smell himself?

I decreed, on the very first day, "Baths happen as soon as we get home and then you can play and eat." The water was so shockingly gray-brown that Oliver was moved to video it one evening. I dare say our tubs may never return to white.

Meanwhile, at the ripe old age of 9+, Jack still requires coaching on the intricacies of shampooing one's own hair. Was this difficult for me to learn and I have forgotten the challenge? I try to be understanding, but I think I caught on quickly.

Two weeks ago, he got out of the bath, drained the water and got dressed before I could check him. His hair was slicked with conditioner. He vaguely resembled Kenickie in Grease. Then, his hair dried.

If you would like to style your hair such that it resembles a shellacked rat's nest, follow Jack's lead. When I tucked him in that night, I tried to run my fingers lovingly through his blond locks. They got stuck. I managed to retract my digits; they were sticky and looked as if they had dandruff. It was vile.

Why did this not faze my boy? He is dirty, plain and simple.

Q2: It pains me to consider this, but I believe Oliver is showing early hoarder tendencies. At the very least, he is entirely too interested in bringing the forest back to his bedroom. I feel we owe camp about 90 bags of assorted natural treasure: mulch, rocks, sticks, pinecones, whatever those revolting shriveled-cantaloupe-looking seed pods are...

This is ONE day's example of what he'd crammed into his backpack and lunch box. I mean, did he actually go to camp? Or did he wander the woods, picking this shit up? I do wonder. In case you're wondering, that shiny blue thing is a noisemaker. It never belonged to Ol or anyone in our family, and yet he blew on it many times. #yuk
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I throw things out in the dark of night, after moving them around the house for several days so that hopefully he doesn't catch on to my plan. He has.

Yes, he has taken to going through many of our trashcans and removing things deemed treasures. This is stuff like used straws, y'all. That were never his. Gum wrappers, frizzled yarn, tape coated with dirt and crumbs. #nottreasures

Dear husband, during this time, ordered one of those Google cardboard things: a ridiculous-looking adult viewfinder into which you put your smart phone. You then walk around wearing this contraption and looking like a complete dork. Naturally, the kids were as thrilled as Tom. Mah gah. With whom do I live?? Let's pay even less attention to our surroundings, shall we?
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Now we're off for that family vacation, y'all! Sayonara!!

**epilogue: After 5 hours at the airport, we returned home. Our flights were canceled but our bags were shipped. We will try to join them tomorrow.