So, the air conditioning is truly out, and not just struggling to cool our house in the 95-100 degree temperatures. It got down to 82 last night–woo hoo! Here’s the household, wilting under the heat:
Mr. Geeky is away and when he returns, we’ll be heading on our first (and only) family vacation of the summer. The kids and I have kept ourselves pretty busy. The kids sleep in more than I do, of course. When they get up–anywhere from 10-1–I have them do a few chores, and then we head to the pool. We’ve been lucky that it’s been exceedingly hot, so taking a dip in the pool’s water feels great. There have been summers, believe it or not, where I felt it wasn’t quite hot enough to warrant getting into cold water. That’s growing up in the south for you.
At night the kids have helped with dinner and we’ve watched tv together or played a game. We played Boggle the other night and I beat Geeky Boy by only one point.
The kids have done laundry and folded clothes while I went into work for a a couple of hours. Geeky Girl is re-reading all the Harry Potter books. Geeky Boy is reading Mental Floss and starting on The Crucible. Next week will be all about sun and surf and good seafood. This week, we’re just biding our time.
Do you remember your summers? Were you required to read, go to academic classes, or practice math? No, me neither. Mr. Geeky and I revisited the kids vegging out issue this morning. He thinks they’re vegging out too much. I say, meh, whatever. I vegged out in the summer and look how I turned out. The thing is, I overscheduled myself this summer. And when I’m not scheduled to do something, *I* want to veg out. I spent the first part of the summer working almost every day, even weekends. When the last conference was over last week, and the family was gone, I balanced out doing work, cleaning the house, and having fun. I went to the dog park, played WoW, and watched a couple of movies. When the family got back, the Sunday before July 4th, we continued to laze around a bit, and I’ve pretty much done very little work this week. I went into work Tuesday, and I poked at a project yesterday, but today I woke up feeling a little ill, so I’m planning to take it easy.
The thing is, I’m lucky. I should take advantage of that luck, of having weeks of free time and not spend it doing work or thinking I should be doing work (which is really what I do when I’m not doing work. Witness the writing of this post to justify said not doing work.). When I was Geeky Girl’s age–that is, 12–I went to the pool almost every day, or I played at a friends house or we went to matinees. When I was Geeky Boy’s age–16–I did have a job, but I didn’t work the whole summer, and I still went to the pool when I could and I took at least a two-week vacation with my family. I didn’t not, at any time, do any kind of enrichment activities. I was a smart kid and that just wasn’t the culture then. Now, as I think Mr. Geeky and I both feel, the culture is different. It feels weird somehow to tell friends that your kids are actually just hanging out this summer, not working, not going to camp. Geeky Boy is going to a class every afternoon from 1-4:30. It takes 45 minutes to drive there. When he’s not in class, he’s on the computer. And therein lies our trouble. Nowadays, kids’ leisure time is more likely to take place in front of a screen rather than at a pool or hanging out at a friends house doing something non-screen related. And that makes me anxious.
When I was a kid/teen, my parents didn’t much care what I did in the summer. Or after school or at night for that matter. Somehow, we all now feel like we have to structure our kids’ time, even their leisure time. Is that fair? Does it help or hurt? I really don’t know, but I know I both don’t like it and feel uncomfortable when I’m not structuring their time enough.
Friday through Monday, I finally quit thinking about work, quit thinking I should do something “constructive” every day as if I needed to atone for my getting the summer off. Sad, isn’t it? I have my fall course planned through winter break. I have locked in one speaker and 9 volunteers for our in-service day that I’m planning. I’ve been to two work-related conferences and will go to another one this weekend/early next week. I think I’m working enough. Thank you Puritan background. Sigh.
Because, of course I got up and checked my work email this morning for the first time in a week, and of course, I’m now going in to work for an hour or so. Which I’d sort of planned on doing anyway. But, by god, I’m going to the pool this afternoon. Don’t try to stop me. I’m on vacation. Sort of.
Some highlights so far:
- Went to a cooking class with my colleagues. So much fun! Plus mojitos!
- Took care of several myriad appointment stuff–dentist mainly, but also car inspection.
- Have worked every morning on my class–going well so far. The sad thing is I know that even if I create fairly detailed lesson plans, I’ll still be tweaking the day before each class.
- Discussed in-service day plans with the keynote speaker, Chris Penny. Very excited about this, but also lots of work ahead.
- Had coffee with a former student, whom I’ve served as a job reference for. She’s turning down job offers left and right, waiting for the right thing (and the right salary) to come along. She’s an amazing student, who’s a great example of combining arts and humanities with computing. She’s an art history major who does web development. It really can be done!
- Had dinner with a former colleague who is also considering a career/job move. Good conversation, good food, can’t beat it.
- I am up to 3rd grade math. In two days, that’s not bad. Actually, I’ll be doing some algebra later today more than likely. I’m moving at a pretty good clip.
- Having lunch today with colleagues (different ones from the cooking class). Looking forward to seeing them outside of school.
- Today is also Geeky Boy’s last day of school. Last night was the last day of nagging him about homework/studying (which I think does absolutely no good, but makes me feel like I’m doing *something*).
- I’m not sure yet if I’ll take the weekend off. I suspect I’ll do some work since I’ll be away M-W. I live in fear of getting too far behind.
- Though it sounds a little hectic, I’m really moving at a pretty relaxed pace. And I’m looking forward to real downtime later this summer.
It’s going to be a busy summer. This week, I plan to continue work on developing my fall class. I’ve been planning out discussions, a few short lectures, and labs. To keep my programming skills sharp, I plan to work through my own exercises and I’ve devised a challenging project for myself.
I’m also attending 3 conferences, one a week from today, another just a few days after that and another less than two weeks later. I’m hoping those conferences bring me ideas for my work, but I do feel a bit overwhelmed by all of it. Still, I hope to take a real break after the last conference and not really think about work for a good 3 or 4 weeks.
Next summer, I think I’ll limit myself to just one conference. I’ll still be developing courses. That’s the blessing and the curse of building a new program. Even if I had courses in place, I’d still be making changes I’m sure. The pace is going to be different andd I’ll appreciate the downtime, a first for me in a job.
What was that about teachers not working in the summer?
Mr. Geeky and I were just discussing how to organize our kids this summer. Geeky Boy is going to one camp. Geeky Girl isn’t going to any, so we have long days ahead of us. Though we want them to have relaxing summers, we also don’t want them to totally veg out. Mr. Geeky and I both have work to get done, and my personal plan is to work in the mornings and take the afternoons off. A few summers ago, perhaps when I was still working on my dissertation, that’s exactly what I did, and it worked well. I spent a focused 3 or 4 hours in the morning working, and then could relax guilt free in the afternoons.
We want the kids to do the same thing. Both have summer reading to do. We’d like them to do some other academic-like work. We’d even be open to them playing music and other non-computer-like activity. So we’ll figure out a plan and see what we all come up with. What do you all do with your long summer days?
The holiday weekend offered a good taste of summer. The days were hot. We hosted guests. We cooked out every chance we got. We’re doing it again this evening. As I write this, I’m sitting on my deck feeling the humidity sink into the day already. I love this kind of weather and the odd combination of bursts of activity followed by complete sloth. Mow the yard, plant some plants, weed the garden, then lounge on the porch with a tall glass of iced tea.
Today it’s back to work, but its tenor will be different. Everyone’s in exams. I’ll be writing comments for report cards, planning an event for tomorrow, planning for classes for next year. Students are done by 11. In theory, I could be, too, but for at least today and tomorrow, I’ll likely be staying until my normal time. It’s a transitional stage from work to summer. After this weekend, I’m more than ready for summer. I know it’s going to be hard to buckle down and focus when I know there are the lazy days ahead of me.