Summertime and the (Family) Living Ain’t Easy

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled slog through the 43 Eternal Truths to bring you this update on our family’s summer, which started when the boys got out of school back in May, i.e. about 700 years ago, and to announce the invention of a family summer plan which may or may not get all of us through to September alive and sane.

There’s a woman at work whose kids are about the same age as mine (12 and 14).  My office is at one end of the hallway, hers at the other, and when we meet in the middle these days, we talk about how much we hate the summer.  We are very unhappy. 

This is because there is NOTHING for young teenagers to do in the summer around here unless they are (1) sports fanatics, and even then if you’re lucky you’ll find a one-week sports camp; (2) budding music prodigies who would like to enroll in a campus bassoon or concert pianist camp; (3) farmers; and/or (4) the offspring of wealthy parents who can afford to send them to lovely Native-American sounding overnight camps where they will build campfires, sleep in bunkbeds, jump off piers into beautiful lakes, and learn to kiss other privileged children.

Most adolescents whose parents work are too old or unmotivated to participate in a structured activity, and too young to get a job, and will spend their summers slouching around their homes parked in front of some type of screen, or sitting in the corners of their parents’ offices, looking out of place and resentful.  They slowly begin to live their lives from 11:30AM to 11:30PM.  They look pale and unkempt, because they don’t go anywhere or do anything, and their behavior starts to take on that slightly off-kilter feel of people who are not used to being around other humans.   

Well, after screaming at my sons so many times and so loudly that I start to cough and lose my voice, I have come up with a plan.  It’s not an original idea, but an adaption of something my former boss does with his family.  We’re calling it The Srajek Summer Institute.  I invite you to visit for details, including a handout and a PowerPoint presentation.  If you have adolescent children, it just might save your life.

6 thoughts on “Summertime and the (Family) Living Ain’t Easy

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  1. I love it! And I’ve just passed it around to all my friends with adolescents. What a proactive thing to do. My older son leaves for one of those Native American-sounding camps tomorrow, and your post ALMOST makes me wish he was staying 😉


  2. If perfect parents like you and Martin “raise their voices” at their kids, then the rest of us certainly don’t have a chance!! Summer with kids and parental jobs made me cringe and I went from supporting 18-yr old drivers licenses [or even 21 yr olds] to wishing they could get them at age 10 so they could at least do stuff outside of the home. Band camp helped. So did working on their uncle’s farm for a week. So did baking. I *even* sent them to Bible school!!!!!! But it must have paid off because believe it or not, my sons turned out to be wonderful human beings and my 23-yr old just sent me a pic of a gorgeous out-of-this-world loaf of bread he just baked [he’s now a nurse in Montreal]. YOU WILL SURVIVE!!


    1. Most of my children’s teen years are a blur to me but I am grateful that we lived in Portland, ME greatest number of restaurants per capita in New England. Encourage their passions: My son was (still is) obsessed with his guitar and needed more money than we could -let alone would- give him. Both kids, Dad a chef (not my husband), were rarely around but working in a restaurant (from age 14) or walking around the city looking hip. And when they slept in, I’d think, well, at least I know where they are and it is quiet. My daughter (never boy crazy) to this day loves her dirt bike at age 32, and still a waitress in Santa Cruz, Ca. She has been with a guy in the bicycle biz for two years now: I think he is “the one.” My son and daughter had an old fashioned childhood; when they complained that they were bored, I’d point to the grassy slopes of the Eastern Promenade, “See that field over there ..?”. Once my son proudly told me of jumping into the ocean off the pier at the waterfront, I clearly recall asking him, “I’m your mother, do you think I should know that?” I hid in my work, ironically as a childrens librarian, and let the chips fall where they might till they left home. Thank goddess they seem okay now but it was an anxious time and I suppose I was in denial. Good luck and goddess bless you all!


  3. Love the idea! I am a generally a pretty laid back person, hate to plan and organize – getting ready for the summer takes a phenenomenal amount of effort and energy! We have one son who spend half the summer with his Dad, and two little ones who require care all summer. So we have a combination of day homes, day camps, time off and grandparents to make it all work! But I think next year I am sending the eldest to Illinois to join the SSI!


    1. Yes, I completely understood this post when I first read it. Still, being inexperienced (but growing in leaps and bounds daily) it took my wife to actually implement a version of your exact plan. It has absolutely saved my sanity (well, so far – at this writing, there are still nine more weeks to go… OMG!)

      Should have followed your instructions right off. Then I could have had bragging rights to our own household dilemma. 🙂

      All the best from Toronto,


  4. Girl, you are great! I have had this problem for years … Sean doesn’t know what he’s in for next summer!


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