Thursday 29 Sep 2016

School's Out
Jennifer Flaten

Slowly, grade by grade the students filed out of the gym. I caught a glimpse of one of my newly minted fourth graders. Immediately tears filled my eyes.

Yes, I am a big softie. I cry at mushy commercials. I cry for anything involving oily animals and especially school programs involving my children.

Not only is this a school programme, which involves my kids, but it marks the official start of summer.

From now until August, the kids will be home every single day. Summer stretches before us. With that thought, I start weeping so hard I need a tissue.

Although I am happy to hop off the sack-lunch merry-go-round and I relish going several months without uttering the phrase, "Please, do your homework."

I do have to come up with 75 worth of activities to keep the children from losing brain mass all the while preventing the house from slipping into jungle law.

I am proud to have successfully navigated another school year. We avoided the usual school pitfalls, lice, mean teachers and the H1N1 flu.

We even survived learning to play the recorder, although I am sure the animals are scared for life.

Our school hurdle was Family Fun Night. Surprisingly, it was fun. I was a little dubious at first because this year's "fun" involved a pool.

To say our early summer weather is unpredictable is putting it mildly. The weather turns of a dime around here. One day it is sunny and 90 degrees with 100% humidity, the next it is 55 degrees with frost advisories.

The odds of the pool party turning into skating party were good. Naturally, Mother Nature kept everyone guessing until the last minute.

On that particular day, we had not only Family Fun night but also a third grade field trip. Sleet, yes, sleet, derailed the original field trip day; the makeup day wasn't much better. It dawned dark and thundery.

The whole day was squishy and cold (did I mention I was chaperoning?) until about three hours before the pool party. Finally, the sun broke through the clouds quickly raising the temperature to 85 degrees.

The pool party was officially on. At parent pick up, the kids hopped in the car chanting "pool party, pool party."

The last thing I wanted to do after squishing around the zoo with a band of rambunctious third grade girls was spend the evening by more water.

Of course, I caved in and off we went to Family Fun Night-Pool.

All had a good time, we only encountered on small hitch. My kids can swim and I use that word loosely. By swim, I mean they don't sink like a stone in the pool, but they are floaters.

They can float, they can dive (okay maybe more like slowly sink) to the bottom, they just can't swim.

I designated the "kiddie" pool as our Family Fun Night HQ. They were a little miffed; they wanted to go into the deep pool with all their friends. I finally convinced them Family Fun Night would no longer be fun if someone had to resuscitate them.

I convinced them that by next year's fun night they would be good swimmers, which means swimming lessons. Great! Now we have something to do over summer vacation.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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