Summer Assignments

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I was fully aware that summer was petering out and we were about to be slammed into back-to-school chaos.  The sky is darkening, the winds are blowing and I see the storm school buses on the horizon.  Yes, lunches are packed, back packs are ready and MY SON IS STILL DOING HIS SUMMER ASSIGNMENTS.

He is a rising 10th grader who was assigned a math packet, a 550 page book to read and:

The Summer Assignment for AP World History & Geography has three parts:

Part I Read the following selections from World Civilizations:

The Global Experience (6th Edition) and summarize. Part I: The Rise of Agriculture and Agricultural Civilizations (pages 2-7) Part II: The Classical Period, 1000 BCE – 500 CE (pages 34-39) Part III: The Postclassical Era (pages 130-135) Part IV: The World Shrinks, 1450-1750 (pages 354-359) Part V: Industrialization and Western Global Hegemony, 1750-1914 (pages 520-525) Part VI: The 20th Century in World History (pages 650-657)

Part II Read Chapters 31, 32, 33 & 34 of World Civilizations: The Global Experience (6th edition), and using the HEADINGS AND SUBHEADINGS in each chapter, take notes/outline. PLEASE INCLUDE NOTES ON THE THINKING HISTORICALLY FOR EACH CHAPTER AS WELL.

Part III Define the following terms and include a sentence about their historical significance. DO NOT INCLUDE THE TERMS IN THE NOTES.

Then 51 terms are listed, I will spare you the details.

AP or Basic Studies, why do they have to do what looks like half of a semester’s worth of work during the summer?  I could rant on and on about all of these kids’ summer trips, camps, work schedules which don’t necessarily allow the time for cumbersome workloads, but that isn’t even the point.

What about SUMMER BREAK?

These kids work hard all year long.  They have  the added pressure to keep up with their studies throughout Winter and Spring Breaks.  I see many teenage clients on a regular basis due to anxiety and stress that they experience during the busy school year. I don’t understand why they can’t just get a rest during the summer.

Another rant I have which piggybacks on the Summer Assignment rant is that in May when SOL’s (Standard of Learning  Exams in the State of Virginia) are finished, the students spend many a class watching Finding Nemo and Shrek.  I wish I were kidding; last spring my oldest son complained that he had to watch the same movie in two different classes on the same day.  I wonder why the self-taught chapters that they are grinding through now can’t somehow be taught in lieu of Disney movie week during the academic day in high school.

I feel badly about writing this negativity (and posting it) as we jump into the new school year.  Facebook is covered with posts about new learning opportunities, excited kindergarteners and fresh beginnings.  But, these summer assignments are a reality that are troublesome; how can these high schoolers feel any sense of excitement or positive energy about starting a new school year after spending the past several weeks with their heads in the books?

The scene at my dining room table

The scene at my dining room table


The Calm Before the Storm


I was able to leisurely take a  wog  (walk/jog) this morning before work since offspring are enjoying their favorite time of the year at sleep-away camp.  As I huffed and puffed along the quiet streets of Fairfax County in early August, I realized that this stillness is short lived.   The vacationers are gone, the office is quiet and I haven’t cooked a meal in weeks!

There are hints that IT is coming; the weather had a moment of coolness, soccer and dance registration are here and we just had no-tax weekend (I always feel that it is TOO early to hit up the school supplies aisle in early August, but clearly, I am in the minority here).

As I revel in this peace, I am aware that it will end with a bang (literally when the kids land in the garage with pounds of dirty laundry) and do wish the transition was more gradual.   I go from moments of boredom when my house is too quiet and actually clean to practice/orthodontists/carpools etc.

So, my dear readers, enjoy the tranquility, the long days with sunlit evenings and LACK OF HOMEWORK.  Good things are upon us although they involve alarm clocks and packing lunches; sometimes it is nice to take a moment and enjoy what is right here in front of us.

Pure Joy



I have been a voyeur on the camp photos and videos where my kids are spending the summer.  Ok, not really a voyeur since the camp is putting it out for all of us parents to see, but it feels a little voyeuristic.  The camp does a fabulous job at portraying the daily happenings of the kids;  there are photos, slideshows and videos.

The thing about these sightings is that everyone is smiling.  Either there is excellent editing, or these kids are just happy!  I keep thinking about when the kids see a camera; they gather together arm and arm and smile because that is what one does when they see a camera.  So, is it really all that fun, or is it the view of the camera?

The videos are showing more unposed fun.  There are the moments when the kids stop and scream “WE LOVE CAMP” as if they have been prompted (honestly, I don’t think they have), but for me the best moments are when the camera is just filming life.

A special moment at this camp is Shabbat (the Sabbath).   The camp has religious services,  a special meal and increased music on Shabbat.  I just watched one of the Shabbat videos and could feel the joy emanating from the kids and adults.  There is a traditional banging on the tables during some songs and, as my kids have reported to me, the song leaders jump from table to table with their guitars. (I was relieved when my daughter guaranteed that the kids scrub the tables extra hard after this table jumping event).  I saw little girls spontaneously breaking into dancing circles in the middle of the dining room while their bunk mates ran over  to join the dance.  This wasn’t posed, this was fun and ruach (Hebrew for spirit).

Then the therapist in me takes over.  Not every kid is happy every single moment;  of course not.  There is homesickness, bunk drama, kids being excluded and overtired campers and staff.  There are bad meals, rainy days and even some boring ‘learning’ time, as I have been told.   I am reminded again and again, without some down moments, how could any of us ever truly appreciate pure joy?  I am not sure we would experience it as wholly if we didn’t have a yucky day with which to compare it.

At camp though, my gut says that the joy outweighs the yuck.  Weeks of sleepovers, constant play dates, cool counselors instead of naggy parents telling  you to take a shower.  Sports, music, dance and craziness instead of school and homework.  Camp has an unfair advantage over the rest of life, how could it not?  One very long vacation.

Camp is truly my kids’ favorite place in the world.  It’s not that they don’t love their parents and enjoy family time, I know they do, it’s just that camp offers a joy, a pure joy that I have yet to see replicated in any other form.



A little hello



It’s been a little quiet over here in blog-land.  I’ve started a few posts and they sit waiting in my cue for the final editing etc.  My posts tend to go better when they fly off my fingers onto the screen.  I know then that I have something important to say.  Not that the ones awaiting perfection aren’t important,  sometimes the words just flow easier (remember,  a writer, I am not).

I have nothing to say, but I get anxious when a random site emails me and says “we’ve missed your blogs”.   Why?  I don’t know – a job for my own inner anxiety reducer.

I had a lovely vacation over July 4th and plunged back in to heavy client days only to have a little reprieve for hump day today before more busy-ness for the end of the week.  Summer is tricky for the solo therapist, it is actually tricky for most businesses  unless you rent boats or manage camps.

Vacations, camps, well-behaved children who don’t have homework, happier families due to less stressful daily life; the need for therapy is down.  Honestly, that makes me happy, other than the need to pay  my bills.  I like that people can find their joy; I like that people are free from worries and feel lighter; I like that people are less troubled and distressed during these lazy summer months.

May you find some joy be it on the beach, at an air conditioned summer movie or just lounging around with no homework, tests or frenzied weeks.  We know they are all around the corner, and when the crazy hits, I am here if you need me.

Signs of the school year coming to an end

end of school

-my kids come home from school having watched movies every day

-the thought of buying deli for school lunches literally turns my stomach

-dirty, gross and tattered notebooks

-my kids come home from school having watched movies every day

-stress over how to manage the next three months via lack of structure etc. for certain offspring

-tons of last minute projects and/or NO homework whatsoever

-459 billion concerts, recitals, banquets and ceremonies

-my kids come home from school having watched movies every day

-daylight in the evenings

-teacher friends planning big fat vacations

-fear of my caseload dropping

-my kids come home from school having watched movies every day

Please add to the list, enjoy the last few days and make sure to ask your kids about the movies they’ve been watching all week.