The summer's soundtrack blares at full volume, "Did you work on math? You know, you need to finish another book. When do you plan on starting?" My child's first day of school is Sept. 10, which translates to roughly 20 days remaining for her to get the job done. Moving at a breakneck pace during the school year, the notion of an idyllic summer flew out the window a long time ago. Working full time necessitates full-time childcare coverage, which translates to day camp, beginning at 8 a.m., and ending at 5 p.m. What the both of us wouldn't give for the summers of my youth, when the days stretched out endlessly.
While the delineation between the school year and summer is not as marked as we'd like, it feels it may be time for a little crash and burn. The voice of Jessica Lahey, author of "The Gift of Failure," echoed in my ear as I was driving to pick up my girl from another day at camp, "For those of you who think this whole 'letting my kids mess up' thing is easy, know this. One of my sons left his homework assignment on the living room table … I have to go to his school anyway to drop something off. Leaving that homework on the table, knowing it will cost him his recess today, is KILLING ME…"
As I sit here writing this, I think about how much my childhood differs from that of my daughter's. I must not be the only parent for whom this is true. Nuclear versus single-parent family; latchkey versus camp; extended family versus a family of local friends. Today's parents seem to be just like our own parents were – making it up as we go along. The fact of the matter is we won't know if we've gotten it right until they make it to adulthood and are self-sufficient beings, and even then, well, maybe we will finally be able to let go. In the meantime, there are some books that might help illuminate the path for each stage we broach: "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber, "The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence" by Rachel Simmons, and "Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years" by Karen Coburn. A little reading never hurt anyone, and, who knows, the added chorus of parenting wisdom just might help us enjoy more of the ride.
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