Sunday, July 7, 2013
Wanted: Summer Entertainment Director. You're IT!
Nevertheless, you're going to need some ideas. And if you're a teacher of the elementary kind, you got one paycheck to last you for the next two months or less you'll be selling your garage on Craigslist.com.
Let me share my wisdom with you. I got ten summers of summer entertainment for kids locked down, loaded up, and out on the line!
Here are my TOP 10 Daytrips with No Money and Limited Sanity
10. The local library. This is your summer savior. You will become instant BFFs with the children's librarian the moment she presents your kids with some super creative incentive to get them to read. Folks, if you go this alone, your children will claim English as a second language in a matter of minutos. Fortunately for you, the local library has every Dr. Suess and Eric Carle book in Spanish and even have them on cassette. Just report to your new BFF and ask, "dónde están uno libro?" and she will direct you to that section and offer your kids a glow-in-the-dark sticker bookmark if they read 2,500 pages in the next 12 days. Bonus! Some libraries have free presentations and special guest stars. In no time, you'll be watching some one man banjo band guy on a picnic blanket with your kids FOR FREE and you won't hear those words "I'm bored" for at least one hour and five minutes.
9. The school or town park. Totally free and you get to make up the playground rules. So if you declare no yelling, tattling or fighting with your sister on the playground, you can just say, "those are the rules. I didn't make them up and if you don't follow them, they make you go back in there. Even if it's summer." Plus, school parks are great to introduce them to if your child is entering that school this year. You can even make some observations while you're there, maybe even role play a few scenarios to see which piece of equipment will have you in the emergency room with a broken growth plate or a full leg cast first. If your kids are getting "too old" for the park, try this. Take 10 pictures while at the park. Your cell phone is fine. Pick some shots that are not so easy to recognize and be sure your kid isn't spying on you like they do when they hear you unwrap a miniature chocolate bar in the front seat and you've claimed they are all gone. Next, give that phone to your kid or show them the pictures in order. Dare them to find all 10 objects in the picture; a certain hinge on a swing, a handle to a monkey bar, a caution sign. You can time this or go along with them at their own pace. You might repeat but have them take the next round of pics. Don't be surprised if they take photos up their own noses or your backside because it's summer and you're the entertainment director.
8. The beach. You just need that tank of gas, sunblock with 2000 SPF, and a bag lunch. You got your seashell hunt, your waves to ride, and all that sand you can bury them up to their neck in when Mommy needs some quiet time.
7. Schedule a playdate. Once you pick up every living corner of school piles that is. A playdate might make you anxious at first, with all that planning, making sure your cabinets have more than a ream of saltine crackers and a can of olives, and that awkward moment at the door when the playdate's mom is dropping her kid off, pretending to give you contact information but what she's really doing is looking for any morsel of clean counter space you might have. Fortunately for you, that playdate is a playdate for Mommy. That other lady's kid is going to play Entertainment Director for the day. She's going to set your kid up with Barbies, playdough, or a day long playing house event, equipped with props and and a costume ensemble so you can actually clean off a counter or do that thing called Laundry you neglected for the last 180 school days.
6. Pet store. One of the furriest, but definitely one of my favorites. You don't even have to own a pet to visit this place for less than 2 pennies. They got walls full of fish and tanks full of turtles, your gerbils, your hamsters, and plenty of parrots to talk to. You can spend almost two hours in there and the entertainment is non-stop and educational. If you must make a purchase, I'd bet on the beta fish. They are easy to maintain and next time you set up that playdate you can send her home with it as a consolation prize for being such a superb substitute Entertainment Director for a day! This might anger the playdate's mom a bit, but no worry, you already got a BFF at the local library.
5. The local farm. Preferably one with a petting farm and at least one baby goat. I live in Farmland, USA so I can take my pick, but if you don't, hit the nearest back road and you're bound to see one. Bring along a few bucks to buy a few apples or a bag of mini-carrots. The object here is to keep those kids chewing so there's no time to tattle or tell you they have to go the bathroom fourteen times. Watch a tractor lift some fresh manure, a plow plug at a few rows, and enjoy watching the farmer's kid clean out that pigsty of a pen for a while, but not too long, or it'll have you reminded of that kitchen counter and those school piles in the corners and that playdate's mom that saw it all and returned that beta fish in your mailbox with a note attached saying they moved to Eastern Quebec.
4. The recreational fields. Bring along the necessities, not so much the bugspray and tick repellant, but a frisbee, a couple of tennis balls, a kickball, a butterfly net, a whiffleball bat. An entertainment director needs to be prepared with the most essential supplies. You can play for hours and if they do that tattling thing, it is not considered a foul if you nail them in the butt with that kickball if it's within the parameter of the stadium.
3. Daddy's work. You know, the same kid that enlisted you as the sole Entertainment Director and is claiming he is on vacation, too because you're on vacation even though he still has to go to work. Bring along lunch and take a tour around to remind all those other worker friends of Daddy's that he is one special guy to have to deal with all that not keeping hands off stuff and going it alone while Mommy visits with the nearest pedicure salon because whoops, she forgot to make that fourth sandwich for herself and it's a great time for Daddy bonding anyhow while Mommy sits in a reclining chair with the most recent issue of PEOPLE Who Have their Own Housekeepers.
2. Skip the museums. Unless you want to practice your shushing and 100 different ways to apologize. Skip the mall. Unless you want to clean out your summer teaching pay which will take you exactly 5.7 seconds in the food court. And most importantly, skip the garage. I know by now, you are looking for a Craigslist item, but it's just work in there. There's always something to organize or clean or declutter in there so just look away. In fact, don't even park your car in there because you'll just be reminded of it. Don't however, skip out on the grandparents' house. They have had peace and quiet all day and they will be so happy to see your kids, tattling and all, you can sit the bench for a while from being Entertainment Director.
and 1. Hit the fairgrounds! You hardly need to spend a penny. Hardly an entrance fee and who says you can't watch other people play the $5 games for a deranged looking purple and orange unicorn bear. Besides, you have your own toilet paper at home to try and throw through the seat, and spray bottles to aim at Daddy with. Stuff your face with fried dough - it feeds a family of three at least. Put the kids on a few rides for a few tickets and if you wait around long enough, someone's even going to give you their leftovers and lookie here, you got another round on that carousel of farmyard ducks for free. Watch the shows, the exhibitions, and don't be afraid to smile when you see another Mommy deal with cotton candy tantrums, because you are a teacher. And it's summer. And you can finally jump for joy because even though you love your own kids more than fried dough itself, that Entertainment Director job thing you did for two months straight, is almost over. And so is that BFF thing you had going with the librarian until next July or at least til your children claim English as a second language come their first homework assignment.