5 Reasons this Mom’s Counting the Days ’til Summer Break

Summer break can't get here fast enough. By this time of year, I'm just going through the motions when it comes to school stuff. Heck, half the time, I wear my bathrobe when I drop the kids off in the mornings. So, in honor of the approaching season, here are the top 5 reasons why I'm in summer countdown mode.

 1. No Standardized Tests 

No filling out answers on bubble sheets over summer break
Answer sheets like this evoke "fond" memories from my past: standardized tests, SATs, LSAT, CPA exam, and Bar exam. Barf!

The kiddos took the Milestones this past week. That's Georgia's version of the standardized tests for public school children. Everyone spends the bulk of the school year in a state of stomach-twisting, anxiety-inducing angst over the standards and whether the kids have learned them. Then, about six to eight weeks before the end of the year, the kids take the tests. Mass weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth ensue.

Only kidding . . . kinda. I just make sure my kids go to bed early and don't pressure them (other than to tell them to double check their answers if they have time remaining when they're done). We're fooling ourselves if we think these kids don't feel stressed about these tests.

How could they not? They take multiple Milestones practice tests. They are told repeatedly how important it is for them to master this and that standard. The Milestones are harped about from the moment they walk in the door the first day of school. And why not? Just about everything is gauged based on the kids' performance on these tests—teacher assessments, school assessments, you name it. It's a wonder these kids aren't walking, drooling basket cases.

Sidebar: Does Anyone Remember when kids were just kids?

Playing over summer break
Kids being kids . . . you know, playing and carefree.

In my humble opinion, we put way too much pressure on kids nowadays and ram too much stuff down their throats. Meanwhile, the powers that be have taken away most of the recess and PE from elementary kids then have the gall to wonder why these children can't sit still and be quiet in the classrooms. The kids aren't even ten for crying out loud!

Meanwhile, fifth and sixth graders are learning algebra and geometry at drive-by rates, all to meet standards. Meaning, it's going to be on the test. Let's not worry about whether the kids actually "get it." Let's just make sure they're exposed to it, so we can check the box and move to the next standard.

This isn't the fault of the teachers. They have to teach the curriculum. And we're dang lucky to have the excellent teachers we've had. But there are only so many hours in the school day and so many days in a week. Eventually, the powers that be have to figure out there's a point of diminishing returns to all this. Right? One would think so, in theory. Sigh!

As for me, I know my kids are intelligent, and if some test that ratchets up anxiety—and mine have test-testing anxiety out the wazoo—doesn't reflect that adequately, then so be it. Move on. What was that? Did I hear someone say "summer break?"

2. No More Bullying 

Let's face it. Kids can be mean. And when you're raising a child on the autism spectrum, your child is often exposed to it on a regular basis. It's not fun. In fact, bullying of kids on the autism spectrum is so pervasive that parents of ASD children (children with an autism spectrum disorder) often remove them from the traditional school setting and homeschool them. This article by Ginny Kochis on the BookShark blog provides some eye-opening statistics about the bullying in school experienced by ASD children.

For my Asperger's child, much of the bullying comes in the form of kids not letting him sit at the lunch table with them or making snide comments about him being  "different" or "weird." But sometimes it can escalate. It's hurtful to him and infuriating, and it makes this mom's blood boil.

My child doesn't tell his peers he's Asperger's because (1) they wouldn't understand what that means and (2) it would just give certain kids one more reason to belittle him. I tell adults when the occasion arises. But here's my problem: why do kids feel the need to pick, ostracize, put down, and bully kids that are different from them ? Where do they get that from because it seems to be a universal characteristic/rite of passage of childhood? We should embrace each other's differences. It would be a really dull world if we all thought and looked the same.

3. No ^@x*#! Homework over Summer Break

No more math problems over summer break
Homework headache

I wish kids could come home from school without being saddled with mounds of homework that exceed even Satan's sadistic idea of hell. I will admit, however, that this year's level of homework finally saw some relief. It hasn't been as bad as the homework piled on them in third, fourth, and fifth grades. That seems backwards to me, though. It would stand to reason the amount of homework and its intensity should increase as the grades increase, not the other way around. Surely, I can't be the only mom that finds this ridiculous?!?

Anyhoo, whenever homework necessitates my assistance, which is often (cue put-upon mom eyeroll), my kids think I know nothing. Nilch. Zip. Nada. It's as if they believe it's possible to graduate college with a business degree and a law degree without having to evidence any smidgen of intelligence to earn them. Every. Dang. Time! As I've said before, I swear they think I have the sense God gave a gnat.

This has become increasingly clear to me in the numerous, and I mean numerous, conversations I’ve had with them regarding homework or daily language use. They take serious convincing that: (1) I’m absolutely positive their homework answer is wrong; (2) I’m one hundred percent confident that is not the way they were taught to solve the math problem, especially given that doing it their way yields a wrong answer; and/or (3) the double negative one of the boys used in our conversation is, despite the coolness of the way it may have sounded to his (non)discerning ear, incorrect grammatically and not acceptable for use in our house.

At least when summer break comes around, we can limp out from our corners of the boxing ring and call a truce . . . for two months, until school resumes in the fall.

4. No More Alarms at the Butt-Crack of Dawn 

School doesn't start until 8:15 a.m., but we get up at 6:00 in my house. Why, you may ask? Good question. My minions insist we leave the house by 7:20 so they can get to school by 7:30. Apparently, these sixth graders have social lives. Imagine that!

Two of the kids are dressed and ready in thirty minutes then spend the rest of the time watching their fave shows on Netflix. It doesn't occur to either to sleep in a bit later.  (Sometimes I wonder how they can possibly be mine as I've never met an extra minute of sleep I didn't capitalize upon.) But one kid, well, he ambles about and wastes every bit of available time before putting on his last sock and shoe. If I got him up any later, he'd be that much later getting ready. He knows how to milk his getting dressed time. He will not be rushed.

Thus, I have to get up much earlier than necessary to get the kids to school in the mornings. The sad thing is, it takes me only fifteen or twenty minutes to get myself fully dressed, and that includes a shower. But if I left it to the kiddos to get themselves up in the morning . . . enough said. On the last day of school, I do a happy dance and kiss that 6:00 a.m. alarm goodbye for the duration of summer break.

5. No More Waiting for Summer Vacation

Walking in the ocean over summer break
Fun in the sun, splashing at the beach. My idea of heaven!

This! This is the real reason I'm counting down the days to summer break.

Somewhere between the hours of gymnastics and diving practices, summer diving meets, tennis lessons, exercise training, and a writer's conference (for me, yay!) we'll find time to take a family vacation!  Quality family time together, or as my sister used to call it when we were young, Forced Family Fun. These are the memories we and they will always remember.

Summer break can't get here fast enough for me! What are your plans for the summer?

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