Paradise & Parenting: Surviving Summer with Young Adolescents

I faintly recall how much I used to enjoy a good summer vacation: getting up late, staying in pajamas until twilight, meals made up entirely of the contents of an ice cream bar. That was BC (Before Children). Now that I am in the DC (During Children) years, vacations are still enjoyable for sure, but quite different for a few reasons:

  • I no longer distinguish between pajamas and street clothes
  • I have to eat vegetables in front of the children
  • Getting up late means sometimes they wait to ask me questions until the sun is up

As a teacher, I feel tired and like I need a break from anything that emits a sound. But also as a teacher, I feel like it’s my duty to provide Learning Opportunities for my children during school vacations. It’s a conundrum that takes over much of my reduced awake time during July and August.

What’s more, I am the proud owner of a twelve and thirteen year old, whose summer bucket list does not include any of the items that most other people would consider to be important, like Getting Off the Couch Once a Day.

So here we are, at home with a couple of very tall, very lethargic people who are embarking on a journey we call Adolescence On Vacation. In three more sleeps, we are going to Chiapas, a trip that Gil and I have been planning for about two years now.

But that’s only for ten days. After that we’ll be back home with great WiFi and few other financial resources. Gil and I have made a rough plan, and we’ve already been implementing parts of it. My kids didn’t want to go to a day camp, and, quite honestly, I prefer spending as much time with them as I can during the summer months. However, I didn’t want them to be completely horizontal all summer. So we promised the kids that they did not have to go to a day camp if they participated in a few key activities. Here are the non-negotiables:

Music lessons and practice five times a week (I have my own musician at home who almost always comes in handy). My daughter took up the ukulele, and my son wants to play the electric guitar. Right hemisphere of the brain – check.

Sports twice a week – their sports lessons continue. Check out Eagle Park Taekwondo at 322 306 9782 for a variety of skill levels and lesson schedules. For swimming lessons, we like Delfines Fitness Center in Nuevo Vallarta. They have lessons all summer long. Call them at 322 688 5576.

Cooking with mom! I did a tricky thing, which is pretty much the definition of good parenting. I asked them what they like to eat more than anything else. I wrote it down, and then I told them they would be learning to cook those things. My son decided to get smart and tell me things he thought would be impossible to learn at home. I found hundreds of recipes on how to make soda, and we’ve already tried two recipes. Mom wins again.

Family novel – About once a year, we read a novel together, usually on a road trip (because “Are we there yet?” is probably one of my least favorite questions of the trillions of questions that exist). Last year we read Wonder and I would have them take turns with me reading passages; not because I was trying to improve their reading skills, but because I couldn’t read and sob at the same time. Charlotte’s Web, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and The Hobbit have all been favorites. This summer we’ll be tackling The Refugee by Allan Gratz. It sounds like I’ll be working on the children’s oral reading skills once again with that one.

American Red Cross Babysitting Course which you can buy online! It’s a great opportunity for my children to learn about the skills they need to start making some money and stop asking me for it.

I have made up my mind to enjoy the summer, regardless of how well we get through the plan. I hope our children do too. Or at least learn something. Barring that, I figure we should at least survive unscathed (thoughts and prayers).