It’s time for my annual rant about how I hate summer.
I hate summer.
First, it’s hot. I am pale-skinned, pale-eyed, pale-haired. I can feel my skin burning in the sun and the heat. I don’t feel endorphin-induced euphoria from running around in the sun or relaxing on the beach. I can “lay out” for a grand total of 10 minutes before I flee for the shade. When I was a kid, my mother never sent me to the park district’s day camp. I always thought it was because (a) she never remembered the registration date or (b) she didn’t work and didn’t need the day care element of day camp, but now I wonder if it’s because she knew I would come home complaining of a day spent in the sun.
Second, and more importantly, like those economically disadvantaged children discussed in study after study, article after article, I experience brain drain. I feel myself getting stupider by the day as my brain melts out my mouth with the heat and humidity of an archetypical July day in Chicago.
This is, of course, hyperbole. The very fact that I am writing this post, reading articles like these, and plowing through my stack of both non-fiction books and novels suggests that I remain engaged in the process of learning even through the dog days of summer.
But it seems a lot harder to do anything in summer. My countdown to the first day of school (30 days, by the way) usually begins on the first week of summer vacation, as my tendency toward free-range parenting kicks me in the ass when I realize that my summer plans for my children of playdates and pool have been dashed by that over which I have no control: day camp, vacations, and the weather.
It’s July 26th and I am out of ideas. I cannot seem to muster the kind of “isn’t this great?!” cheerleading that seems to accompany most child-centered activities. A few months ago, I read a book on organizational psychology called Drive, by Daniel Pink. Pink’s theory is that individuals are most motivated by doing things that are intrinsically satisfying rather than “incentivizing” individuals to perform certain tasks. Modern parenting, it seems to me, is one giant game of carrot-and-stick. One that I am not particularly interested in playing today.