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Betsy Block

Stories without recipes

Up a Creek

Up a Creek
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New post up every Wednesday.

"I have mixed feelings about this," says 10-year-old E. He's talking about school ending on Thursday. I have to agree with him.

In my family, we do best with a routine. In fact, unlike pretty much anyone else we know, we're all happiest during the school year. My kids are up by 6 anyway, and fighting by about 6:03, so by 8 everyone's raring to get out of the house. When people ask what we're "doing" this summer, I'm not sure what they're getting at. Obviously, the answer is "camp." What else?

Although I do know families whose answer is "hang around", "go on vacations" or even, "spend the summer at a beach house." (Or worse, "spend the summer at our beach house.") Huh?  How does this work? Aren't the kids fighting the entire time? Don't they just want to watch TV all day? With this plan, isn't Mom on the hook for all food, beverages and entertainment 24/7 for weeks at a time? This is called a vacation?

Life must be different in other households, or maybe it's that BD and I are doing something very wrong. One of BD's friends left a message on our machine saying he's taking his two kids on a camping trip; I shot a look at BD to which he replied, a little defensively, "I'm doing my best here." He fears even an hour's drive alone with our two kids, never mind all the rest that comes with a night away (at a campground no less!). And me? I'm right there with him. We resist change; we fear vacations.

In other words, even the question "what are you doing this summer?" shows that most people seem to be having an easier time of things than we are. By 9 a.m. on the first day after school ends, E will be wondering what exciting plans I've lined up for him: play dates, exotic day trips, projects, games... It exhausts me just thinking about it. And I can't really let him wander around town as much as he'd like because there's danger a-lurkin' in this here big city. We've thought about moving somewhere safe and rural, but then BD and I would lose our minds. Plus, we've read that there's no such thing as "safe and rural" anymore anyway.

Since most after-school activities and homework have ended, we've already been dealing with extra free time. That's why we've started dredging up all those kid-friendly projects we love so much, starting with the classic "peanut butter and pretzel cabin" pictured above which, as you can see, five-year-old P really dug into. If things around here get bad enough, edible crafts projects might have to double as dinner. Actually, this one just did.