Since it is Memorial Weekend, that means Summer is right around the corner. I have mixed feelings about it. I know that must seem odd to many. I work very hard Monday through Friday in my classroom with 20+ students, and I should be thrilled that there is time off…right? At this point, I feel compelled to say that I do not have 3 months off. I will be working in my classroom until Jun 21st (despite the children leaving on the 19th) and I will be back moving furniture, learning new curriculum, and preparing for September during the 2nd week of August. In July, teachers are reading about their subject areas and taking classes to maintain their certificate. There…I had to say that. Anyway…I couldn’t resist.
Summer is hard. It isn’t supposed to be… but it is. Remember my son is challenged by transitions, even a change that is a “good thing.” He says that he is excited for the summer, but it throws him off. It takes us a long time to get into the swing of it and about the time that we have worked out the kinks, we need to start the transition back to school. In addition to transitions, a predicatable routine is a must. I try to provide a structured environment, but this hasn’t always worked out well. One day last summer, I remember talking with my TBP about the schedule for the day. I tried to create a schedule that allowed for a bit of time out of the house, time for me to get things done, and plenty of time for us to play or go to the park. “Why do we have to go to Trader Joe’s at 9:30? You don’t need an appointment to go. We can go anytime. Let’s go later, so we can lounge in the morning before we have to go anywhere.” This discussion took place on one of the first days of Summer…and it made me wonder if this bargaining was going to have to take place everyday.
In an effort to provide the much needed structure, we signed up our TBP for activities. He was in swimming lessons for 2 weeks, piano lessons, and a week of drama class. I was so excited because I thought that these activities would allow for a routine where he would be with other children for part of the day and the rest of the day home with me. You can see where this is going, can’t you! By the time summer was over, I really needed a vacation!! Swimming was okay, but he was with a new instructor and she did not get him at all. She would be clearly irritated with him, but would smile as she talked with him. We knew that she wasn’t happy, but he didn’t understand her visual clues at all. He loved his piano teacher and had built a great relationship until one day, she tried to get him to do a more challenging piece and he shut down immediately. He started talking to us about his bad case of stage fright. Before long, he refused to practice or even participate in the lesson. Sigh…
I knew that Drama was going to be great! He was very creative, liked to use funny voices, and loved dressing up at home so I was proud of myself for scheduling this class. I knew I got this one right! Monday and Tuesday reports were great. “I really like it” was his response when I asked what he thought of Drama. Wednesday, the report was less enthusiastic, but I wasn’t worried since the class was only until Friday. Thursday, I made my critical error. On the way to the class, I asked, “How has the practice gone for the performance?” “What performance?” he asked and before I thought about it, I said, “oh you know, the one that you are doing for the parents tomorrow.” As I said the words, I knew it was a mistake! My TBP was not talking and he was thinking. He was unusually quiet when I dropped him off and I should have known that it wasn’t going to go well. Not 40 minutes later, I got a phone call to come pick up my son since he was not cooperating. When I arrived, I found him coloring with one of the chaperones, while the others were all engaged in the practice. As I gathered my son’s things and walked toward him, the coordinator told me that he had shut down completely and was a different child than the previous days. She also said, “You don’t have him scheduled for anymore camps this summer, do you?” I knew what she was saying.
In an attempt to learn from my mistakes, I am trying a different approach this summer. I didn’t schedule him for anything except a few swimming lessons with the instructor that totally understands him. Also, we have our same nanny scheduled off and on throughout the summer so that there isn’t too big of a space and he “has to get used to her” again. I planned a few short vacations in places that we love and we have lots of open days in between. I’m not sure that this more “laid back” approach is the answer, but we will see. If you have a TBP, let me know how you handle Summer!