It’s the last day of school, and I am extremely prepared. I recently attended a training at our local school district given by a Behavioral Specialist. It was about the importance of maintaining structure and adhering to a schedule of carefully curated, developmentally appropriate activities throughout the summer months. I couldn’t agree more. And it starts on Day One.
The Night Before Day One:
It’s business as usual. Yes, we went out to my daughter’s favorite pizza restaurant and even ordered ice cream to celebrate the completion of her first year of kindergarten. But now, it’s bath, brush teeth, story and song, and bed on time, right honey?
Or not. By 9pm, I have been negotiating with a screaming, crying, pleading, ridiculously stubborn, and surprisingly tactical six-year-old for almost an hour about this one debatable point: why can’t she go to sleep in her soaking wet mermaid tail?
You have to understand, my daughter is a filmmaker. She’s already won an award for Best Film in the K-2 Division at her elementary school. And in tonight’s particular film, the character falls asleep and wakes up as a mermaid. And she’s very Method. So…
She did finally fall asleep (sans tail) at 9:15pm. How? I drugged her. Zarbee’s Melatonin 1 mg Grape flavor–if you’re looking for a fix.
And then I got to work.
Per the Behavior Specialist, I went online and printed out these adorable daily schedule activity cards, cut and laminated each one, stuck Velcro tabs to the back, created a daily schedule board complete with a crafty sun decoration and complementing Velcro tabs. I created the schedule for Day One, hung the rest of the activity cards with some fun, summery decorations to inspire enthusiasm, and finally went to bed.
Squeals of excitement, hugs of joy–my hard work and artistic flair have paid off–she can’t wait to start her two-month adventure of sun and structure!
“After I just make one little short film, Mom.”
We end up shooting footage of the entire schedule of activities. Which is kind of fun. I can picture maybe editing it into an instructional video for other moms who may not know about the exciting world of daily schedule activity cards and could use my experience as a guide. Granted, my daughter is wearing a torn and dirty mermaid tail for every single activity and referring to herself as Ariel. But it’s summer. It’s supposed be fun, right?
We start with a science experiment. She loves science. We make a sparkly, red volcano.
Then it’s Friday Free Choice–she gets to choose between music, art, writing, and blocks. She chooses to do 15 minutes of each. Great! The more the better, right? The music was a little loud, but the watercolor she did was exquisite.
Snack, chore–she’s balancing upright in her tail while she sorts silverware–then, storybook. She sets up a whole class full of stuffed animals for the story. It’s adorable. But as I’m reading the story and answering a question from her stuffed bunny, Peeps, I turn and all of the sudden… she’s gone. In the water. With her tail.
Well, swimming is on the schedule, just not until later. Good thing for these Velcro tabs… I’ll just switcheroo. No big deal, right?
Wrong. This must be what the Behavior Specialist meant about adhering to the structure. One little switcheroo, and the whole train can come off the wheels.
Now, it’s barely 1pm and we’ve blown through (or blown up) the entire daily schedule and we’re screaming bloody murder about how all the other kids are watching as much YouTube as they want right now, and she just wants to watch one more home movie about a family she’s never met in the southland, and I won’t let her, so I must be the worst mother in the world.
Breathe. It’s okay. Just hold the iPad steady. I operate the camera, while my little filmmaker introduces every single one of her stuffies to her audience, in preparation for the bed scene–the one in which she will go to sleep and wake up as a mermaid in full mermaid tail.
I let it go. It’s not that wet. Her bed will dry.
By 5 she’s in the jacuzzi, and I would have a glass of wine, or many, if not for the nasty sinus infection I’ve pretty much had since she started preschool four years ago.
At this point, I remember… I’m not a full-time mom. I have a career I’m hoping will blow up, I have students and clients and dreams and ambitions, and, overcrowded or not, I should have looked into more summer camps.
But, as I’m tucking my little mermaid-clad Scorcese into bed, she tells me, “I can’t wait to see what’s on the schedule tomorrow, Mommy.”
Was that a dare? I never shrink from a dare.
So, I go back to it. Velcro tabs and switcheroos and agonizingly endless debates with myself about where to put the superfun activity that unfortunately involves sugar so could prove disastrous if placed too early or too late in the daily schedule.
And, it’s 10pm.
I remember a few weeks back saying, “It’s actually a good thing I didn’t get staffed this season, because my babygirl really needs me at home.” And I think–for her sake and mine–that that is the stupidest thing I have ever said in my life.
But I can’t waste time now on regrets. I have to get to bed. Because tomorrow–duh duh dum–is Day Two…