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Tuesday, March 13, 2012  

Summer Cool

It was time to plan how M. Edium was going to spend his summer. At seven years old, and more than halfway through first grade, he's at that awkward age. He's too old to go back to Montessori or day care for the summer, and he's too young to be allowed to hang around the house all day driving his mother and me crazy for three months while we're trying to do our work-from-home day jobs.

Last year wasn't so bad. He'd been going to half-day kindergarten the previous school year, filling the other half-day at the same Montessori school he'd been going to since he was three and a half. The problem with that was he'd been going to that Montessori school since he was three and a half, so he pretty much knew all the stuff they taught there. We kept him there for the balance of June and July, ignoring his increasingly strident complaints of boredom, then winged it for August, which proved less than ideal. He spent some time at a couple of camps and at my parents' house and even at their cabin up north, but that only took us so far. Not that he minded getting to watch a DVD or two a day when he was home, but too much screen time turns him into a recidivist felon on crack, just like all the studies say.

So this summer, with three months to fill instead of one, Trash knew she was going to have to get a head start on getting him into the various programs. We're lucky to have access to plenty of resources where we live: the local community center, the community education department of the adjoining affluent suburb, the Science Museum of Minnesota, the YMCA, and most of all, Trash.

She'd learned from experience last year that the good stuff fills up in advance, and quickly. So she's been interviewing M. Edium all year on what kind of activities he'd like to do. Which, given his eclectic tastes, made him seem like a rich kid from the Upper West Side when taken all together.

Still, last Sunday Trash sat down with her laptop and what catalogs we'd received up to that point and started sifting through all the various programs available this coming summer. Most of them go for a week, and many of them are half-day classes. And she was booking them all months in advance, on websites that didn't always function smoothly or over the phone with the weekend skeleton crew. As I said on Twitter at the time, it was a bit like using barbecue tongs to assemble a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are made out of Jell-O.

But after a long afternoon of clicking, calling, and summoning M. Edium in from his snow fort to ask him, "Would you like this?" Trash had constructed a summer that any kid would envy. Or at least, any kid that likes the stuff M. Edium likes.

There were two immovable tentpoles to work around: one being his one-week karate camp in August, where he's all but guaranteed a belt promotion; and the other is the previously booked week at the cabin by the lake with my parents (and, part o the time, myself), which last year changed his life by introducing him to the joys of fishing. Sometimes things skip a generation, you know.

So Trash went to work slotting stuff in. You may have seen the product of his "Jedi Moviemaking" after-school class on YouTube; he'll be taking a similar class with a Harry Potter theme, so you can look forward to the sequel. He's also taking a Wizarding class, so it'll be like a summer week at Hogwarts but with less death.

Other classes include one on invention and one on spycraft, so we'll get to have our very own miniature Q from James Bond in the house. Or a q, if you will. We're returning to Renaissance Weekend, so he gets to do Camp Renaissance again, where last year he met in person a paleontologist, several NASA employees including an astronaut, and a one-time pilot of the Goodyear blimp. He's also looking forward to spending more time with his favorite babysitter, with whom he bonded so effectively last summer by making her do everything he wanted to do. And if that's not enough, he's also doing golf, sailing, fencing, and horseback riding camps. At this rate there's nothing left for him next year but polo.

He also wanted to do something music-related, but we're just sticking with his regular weekly piano lessons. And his final request was for something with dance and gymnastics. Trash found him a dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading camp, which he resisted until we told him that a cheerleader once grew up to be the president of the United States. Which is the first and last time we ever point to that dude as a role model.

Trash was so proud of her accomplishment that for days afterward she carried around the notebook listing all the classes and showed it to people. I would have referred to it in writing this post but she's out showing it to more people right now.

The best part is that if he hates anything, he only has to stick with it for a week. But he could potentially discover interests that he might pursue for the rest of his life. We're happy to be able to give him this opportunity. Sure, all those classes add up, but they'll pay for themselves next summer. At which pointhe'll be old enough to not only stay home all summer, but spend it building a second story on the garage.

posted by M. Giant 4:58 PM 0 comments


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