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Friday, July 11, 2008


Juggling Frogs wrote a wonderful comment on Mother in Israel's blog:

"You know how some homeschoolers work without a curriculum and call it "unschooling"? Well, we're not homeschoolers, but in the summer, our family engages in "uncamping". We bask in the lack of a schedule and float across time..."Juggling Frogs 07.07.08

I have not yet decided if I am a "homeschooler-wannabee" or just a "homeschooler-sympathizer". In either case, If I homeschooled, my kids would definitely be an "unschooled" -- which is why Moshe would never agree to it.

Thankfully, despite a rocky start with one of my kids, all three of my kids love school -- though they don't always admit it! They all love to learn; most of their teachers are excellent; and they have great kids in their classes. (Don't be fooled, I have my share of criticism of our school in particular, and the educational system in general! But, since we are sending to school, at least we have frameworks that work, overall, for our kids.)

That said, we all look forward to spending our summers together! Up until this year, we also basked in our free time. We slept late in the mornings, stayed out late at night, played with friends, and had a wonderful time.

When asked, the kids would tell their friends that they are in "Kaytanat Ima" (Mom's Summer Camp) -- we even made T-shirts, which we would wear on our outings. (Every summer, each kid would paint his/her own "Kaytanat Ima" shirt)

Last summer, I lost a lot of my summer running around to tests and doctor's appointments, and, eventually, chemotherapy (starting, Thursday, July 26).

Thankfully, my friends, especially IS, really helped make sure that my kids' summer vacation still included many fun activities.

Each year, we plan most of the summer with IS -- She is much more organized than I am, she has a daughter Y's age and a son MD's age, and ALL our kids play well together! (At the end of last summer, MD told me that he especially looked after TE, one of IS's young twins, as if TE were MD's little brother!)

So, it was natural (and more than generous) that IS volunteered to organize transportation and food so that my kids could continue to participate in all our usual fun activities (museums, parks, etc).

At one point, IS mentioned that the outings were different without me. I was sort of surprised. I knew that IS would miss my company (since we both look forward to hanging out and talking all day). But I did not think my kids would really notice my absence. After all, when I'm there, my kids practically ignore me while they play with their friends. It was nice to know that they missed me (in a bittersweet sort of way).

I am glad that I did not know then, that that would be our last free summer together.

This summer, my eldest daughter is busy almost all July. As I mentioned before, she went away the first week of summer vacation for four days and three nights, to a "madatzim" (young leaders) seminar. She came back Wednesday night, bursting with enthusiams and eager to share what she learned!

Next week, she begins a 13 day course to become a "madrichat ezer" (assistant teacher) for her gymnastics chug (class). Even though Y only started gymnastics this past year, she also volunteered as a "mitnassah" (teacher trainee) for the younger kids. She took her volunteer job very seriously, and almost never missed it! Her instructor was so impressed with Y (both by Y's personal improvement and by her commitment and skill as a "mitnassah"), that she strongly recommended that Y take this training course, even though Y is still relatively new to gymnastics and cannot do all the exercises for this level, yet. The training course is a serious and intense course, run by the municipality and the Wingate Institute.

MD also put in a special request this summer: he wanted to learn computer programming. We searched around and found a 2-week program, in the same building as Moshe works!

Only A chose to stay at home! I was so excited to have her to myself!!

Who knew that I would spend the entire week running to the hospital?! Thankfully, one of her good friends is also home, and they spent a lot of time together, including one spontaneous sleepover. At least we have next week together!

So, our family has gone from having all the time in the world, to having to schedule around Y's programs, MD's kaytanah (summer camp), my chemo, and, let's not forget, youth group activities! Y is now in "chagas" (chevraya gimel -- high school age group), which means that she has activities all the time, at all hours of the day and night.

It is a bit frustrating for IS, whose kids are still home and don't go to youth group, so she is still free as a bird! I am grateful that she is so flexible!

Meanwhile, I have mixed feelings.

I loved our summers of uncamping. I loved waking up each morning and deciding what we were going to do. I loved being able to stay out late, and not have to worry about waking up the kids in the morning. I loved being able to just pack up and go, whenever/wherever I wanted.

But I am also proud of the things that my children are choosing to do with their summers.

And I am proud of the independence that they are developing.

Of course, these mixed feeling can hit you in the gut. Like, when I asked Y if she would be joining us for certain activities, and she answered "Sure, if it fits into my schedule."

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Baila said...

I hope that you are feeling better. Your post makes me feel better about the kids not doing much this summer. I am going to try to embrace it, instead of fearing it.

It's going to be a great summer.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Baila -- I TREASURE our summer time together!! I look forward to it all year! Then, when summer finally arrives, I am surprised by how fast it flies away!! I always feel like I need at least another month! (though the kids are usually eager to return to school [read: their friends] by the end of summer)

I knew the time would come when the kids would go off on their own... I just didn't realize it would happen so soon!

Juggling Frogs said...

Thanks, RivkA! I hope you have a fantastic summer, and enjoy all the busy parts and the down-time.

May all the mixed feelings blend in the most harmonious of ways, just like the kids' schedules!