I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of people in this world. Those who squeal in delight at the sight of a bookstore or library (having to go change their underwear because they have peed when they discover their favorite author has put out a new book), and those who would rather have their nipples gnawed off by rabid coyotes than read a book.
I am, of course, of the former category while my husband is of the latter. This difference is not as significant as our Mets/Yankees rivalry, however, it has created a problem that we did not anticipate with procreating. We’ve created a child who falls in the category of what can only be plainly labeled as a “book hater”. It’s not too much of a problem…until summer, that is. Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. The dreaded summer reading project.
Who came up with “Summer Reading”? It must have been some childless sadist in a dungeon somewhere, rubbing his (or her) hands together as he (she) hatches a plan to foil parents and their desire for two months of respite. “Yes, yes, school is out for the summer. Mothers and fathers everywhere are rejoicing that they don’t have to chase their little darlings around to get them to sit and do homework.
But wait! Oh no, no, dear parents! Let’s give them a book (or two, or ten!) to read. And then, they have to write a snooze worthy essay about said book! And they will HATE the book! And you will spend two months getting them to read the book! And they will hate you in the process! Oh yes! The fun never ends!” Fade to maniacally laughter.
It has begun in my house. My son in going into high school in the fall so of course he has more than one book to read. And honors class, too, so the torture continues with books no kid would ever read unless they had a gun pointed at their head. Which is basically what is happening to him in the form of parental torment.
I have begged, pleaded, threatened, punished, taken away phones, and begged him again…just to start the book. He’s on chapter one and is now setting off “water bottle rockets” in his room to avoid any further reading. This is after pretending to take a nap and volunteering to weed the garden.
Why do we have to do this every single summer? I already know how this is going to go. He will wait until the week before school starts, go on Sparknotes to get the book synopsis, hastily compose an essay filled with utter crap, and be at the mercy of his teacher. Meanwhile, the assignment will have basically ruined MY summer because I am an anal-retentive, non-procrastinating, book lover who doesn’t understand why he just doesn’t read the book.
Why do we keep doing this, school administrators??? Kids who like to read will read fifty books this summer (me, me, me!) and kids who don’t will employ my son’s strategy. Why do we need to force them to learn? Why can’t they just do whatever their little heart desires over the summer? Whatever happened to carefree summer days?
And don’t tell me we need to “engage their minds” during the summer because pretending to read the book and writing an essay the night before school starts isn’t accomplishing crap. The only thing it does is give parents more reason to fight with their kids. And more reasons for kids to hate reading. Wouldn’t YOU hate something you’ve been forced to do? In the summer no less?
And why only reading and writing? Is that the only academic subject worthy of constant education? What about science? History? Politics? Why not have kids chose what they’d like to delve into during the summer? They could visit museums or plant vegetables or build a robot. There’s more to life than reading dusty old books…and this is coming from a self proclaimed bibliophile.
Now I must go…the sound of a popping water bottle has frightened the cat and I have to peel her off of the ceiling…all in the name of academics, of course.