School’s Out…For Summer
Today is my son’s last day of school. Not forever, and not even until Fall really. But every year I get the Alice Cooper song stuck in my head. I am still annoyed the Minneapolis Public Schools start each new school year the week before Labor Day. I would rather have my son start school in September, so we can enjoy the MN State Fair together on a week day. But I’m not so thrilled, overall, with the American tradition of giving students such a long break every summer. When my son was younger he attended a year round charter school, Monday through Thursday. My employer at the time allowed me to bring him to work with me on Fridays or work from home. I didn’t have to worry about saving up for summertime childcare, until after the 4th grade. And then it became a major stress point, as it is for many families (but especially as a single parent household). This NY Times piece is a great read:
Most American schools take a 10- to 11-week break during the summer. The assumption that underlies summer vacation — that there is one parent waiting at home for the kids — is true for just over a quarter of American families. For the rest of us, the children are off, the parents are not. We can indulge our annual illusion of children filling joyful hours with sprinkler romps and robotics camp or we can admit the reality: Summer’s supposed freedom is expensive.
This antiquated system ought to change. Now that my son is older he no longer attends summer camp. I thought he might get a job this summer but he’s traveling quite a bit. And it’s even more difficult to find appropriate employment for a young person with autism. So instead I’ll have him help me out with yard stuff while I’m at work. We rent and our landlord provides a lawn mowing service, but that’s it. This year I’ve been determined to transform our backyard from a blah space into an oasis. I began by attacking an overgrown but mostly dead rose bush in our front yard. It fought back. And I’ve been adding planters full of colorful flowers and hanging flower baskets and additional patio furniture. I made the mistake of turning to Pinterest and fell down the rabbit hole for a while. Too many ideas. Some good, some bad, some outlandishly expensive. Hoping my outdoor commercial grade string light plan pans out. But it won’t be all work and no play for us. Aside from relaxing in our backyard paradise, there are plenty of fun goings on in the Twin Cities in the summer because our warm weather times are so brief. This coming weekend is the annual Northern Spark dusk-to-dawn festival. And each of our Twin Cities have put out schedules for their free movies in the parks series. Minneapolis Music & Movies in the Parks and Saint Paul style. This past weekend we missed both Grand Old Day and Open Streets Lyndale, in favor of our friends’ housewarming/baby shower. Totally worth it. Besides, there will be more Open Streets events around town. And we’ve already gotten to our favorite Pizza Farm – in Stockholm, WI – once this season. And the Internet CatVidFest is returning to the Saints stadium in August. But summer is bittersweet. My son will be sleeping in now and that means no more weekday morning hugs before I leave for work.