When I was writing my weekly column for a newspaper when my kids were young, it was always a challenge each year to come up with something to write about the summer break from school that wasn’t just a rehash of past columns. I thought maybe people were getting tired of my “I hate Summer” columns, but a friend assured me otherwise.
“No, Maryann,” she said. “You’ve got to keep writing this. If you suddenly started loving the summer break, that would leave the rest of us looking like the worst mothers on earth. So accept the gauntlet, carry the flag, give us a game plan.”
How could I refuse?
I worked for two weeks on a plan I thought was perhaps the best summer vacation survival guide ever, but it only took two days for my kids to destroy it.
The shining glory of said game plan, which I considered definitive, succinct, and perhaps worthy of someday being etched in stone, were my edicts:
Thou shalt not wake up the household before eight o’clock in the morning.
“But you didn’t say I couldn’t sing.”
Thou shalt not fight.
“This isn’t a fight. It’s a police action.”
I guess I should have covered more bases. I amended that edict to read: Thou shalt not fight or engage in any sort of skirmish, duel, war or uprising. That should be clear enough for them.
Thou shalt not bother me with trivial details when I’m working.
“Grandma just called from Detroit. But I told her you were too busy to talk.”
Thou shalt complete all chores before noon.
“Mom, your bed’s not made and its twelve-o-one.”
Thou shalt co-operate.
“We are co-operating. David’s helping me get this Twinkie away from Michael.”
Once the fun of breaking edicts was over, there was nothing left but this deep pit of boredom. We dipped so low, we were reduced to inane activities such as conducting a contest to see who had the most mosquito bites in unusual places. (You do not want to know the details of who won.) Then we endured 14 hours of “Love Boat” reruns with a test afterward to see who could remember the most lines of dialogue.
And this was the shining example my friend thought I could be?
Excerpted from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck, which is still under consideration for publication.
For more fun, hop over to The Blood Red Pencil, where my friend, Tracy Farr is reviewing the reviewer.