Two words guaranteed to strike fear or loathing into the heart of any child! For that matter, any child old enough to understand what oxymoron means will tell you that that phrase is the pinnacle of a contradiction in terms. Years ago, the military intelligence was the penultimate oxymoron.
There was a summer school that I looked forward to attending. Back in the carefree days of my youth, yes, too many moons ago to count, my friends and I enjoyed our days on Martha’s Vineyard. Even with it being summer, and the days were long, there never seemed to be enough daylight in a day to cram in all our fun.
Yet, there were still days when I would pester my mom with the words: “Mommy, I’m bored; there’s nothing to do around here.”
That’s when she enrolled me in the summer program offered by the Campgrounds. Held in the upstairs meeting room of the main offices, it ran only for a couple hours in the late morning. My mom would walk me over to it; say good-bye and then the teachers would give us all kinds of things to do. At this summer school, I learned about painting and trying to draw a picture that actually looked like something! After arts and crafts, we’d go out to the lawn around the Tabernacle and do some kind of game, something very active to tire us. Yeah, those teachers were no dummies; they knew the value of heavy-duty physical activity. Then it was back inside for a final activity, and then off to home for lunch.
The program only lasted part of the summer, a couple weeks, as I recall, so it wasn’t a big chunk of time out of being with my friends. It also was not like real school; there were no lessons in science or math or, blah, English. I imagine these days they’d have a computer lab and teach kids about the internet and I seriously doubt they’d have any physical activity; can’t risk a kid getting hurt and the parents suing the school? It's such a pity.
For me, at the time, I had mixed feelings about it. Now, looking back, I loved every minute. My proudest moment of all came later in the summer at the All-Island Children’s Art Festival. The teachers entered our best artworks and one of mine, of a windmill standing in a field of corn, won a yellow ribbon. Yes, they actually gave first, second and third prizes, all those years ago, and didn’t care if some kids were disappointed when they lost; such is life!
When I saw that ribbon, actually just a piece of yellow paper cut into the shape of a ribbon, I was on cloud nine. I thought I’d won first prize. It fell to my mother to explain that blue was the color of first. I was saddened, but also resolute. I was going to work harder, learn more about art, do more drawings and enter them next year.
Huh, so, I guess I did learn something at that summer school.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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