Summertime Blues

hero image
09 Aug 2006

How I am spending their summer vacation.

Today I insisted we do something educational, so we drove to a kids’ science museum where I got to lay down on a bed of nails. (I had to, since going to the museum was my idea.) This point of the exhibit, so to speak, was to prove that lying on many hundreds of nails is far more comfortable than lying on a single nail, since body weight is distributed more easily this way. I believe my curiosity on this issue has now been satisfied forever.

I tried to encourage the boys to spend time at the exhibits that explained how gravity works, but instead they stood for two hours in front of a video monitor playing “virtual volleyball.” While they did this, I learned a lot about the origins of refrigeration.


Took younger kids to see a movie starring talking animals. Despite the eye-popping animation, I fell asleep.


The dog was attacked by a squadron of heartless fleas, so I spent the day trying to de-flea him before he scratches himself raw. Just as when the kids had lice, I also had to launder all surfaces where the dog sleeps. Since Ken tends to “sleep around,” that meant every blanket in the house. This exercise made me wonder who in the heck made up the expression, “work like a dog.” Have you ever seen a dog “work?” All dogs seem to do, when they are not collecting fleas, is lay around, bark, sniff for food, look endearing, and lay around some more. While the kids complained that we weren’t “doing anything,” I worked — not like a dog, but like a woman.

Thursday night

Counted to ten several times, slowly, so as not to scream when my daughter sang “To-MORROW! To-MORROW! I’ll love ya, to-MORROW, it’s on-ly, a day a-whey!” for the four hundredth time. Angling to get the part of Annie in the camp play, she is practicing endlessly, trying to get every trill of the song just so. In an act of revenge, the boys make up a song called “Yesterday,” and sing it repeatedly, just for kicks. They have no idea that this was ever the name of a real song.


The heat is sweltering, and the kids’ new motto seems to be, “If you can’t stand the heat, leave the refrigerator door open.” To keep themselves busy, they ate all the groceries I bought yesterday and wrote out a grocery list for me to fill. It read, “Waffuls. Sirup. Ice cream. Katchip. Noodils.” Furthermore, they will no longer eat any cereal unless it comes with a free CD.


Desperate for activity, the kids decide to launch a lemonade and cookie stand business. I supervise their baking efforts, and they leave a tornado of flour, sugar and eggshells behind them. Their haul is nearly $15. My cost was about $76.00, including six bucks in cooking ingredients and $70.00 for the chiropractor, whom I needed to see after I threw my back out, hauling a heavy table to the street corner for business to open.


Began packing the boys for summer camp. Despite labeling every sock and other stitch of clothing, I realize with heavy heart that I will most likely never see these clothes again. With my luck, all they will return with is a case of poison ivy and some other kid’s ill-fitting shoes.

In the evening, we flip a coin to decide which movie to watch. I lose, so we watch “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” — again. While the kids are convulsed with hilarity, I sneak away to the kitchen and rendezvous with another pair of jokers: Ben & Jerry.


On the way back from ice-skating, my car blows a gasket. Two minutes later, I follow suit. As the car leaks out all its bodily fluids, I wait for the tow truck. Naturally, I am dressed badly. Because it is so hot, I buy my kids ice cream from a mini-mart near the shipwrecked car. Somehow, we jam four people into the front seat of the tow truck, where my kids drip their ice cream bars, melting faster than the polar ice caps.


Distraught at not being chosen as Annie in the camp play, my daughter launches a new dramatic assault at camp, something that involves eating Chinese food. We stop at a Chinese restaurant where we frequently get take-out, and I send her in to ask for a few empty rice cartons and chop sticks as props for the play. She emerges a moment later, mystified at having been refused. Dressed even worse than I was the day the car broke down (because I have just come from the gym, where the air conditioning had broken down), I feel a swelling of maternal righteous indignation. Although I look like a sweaty street person on the edge of a nervous breakdown, I storm the place and demand they hand over chopsticks and cartons, or they will never see my MasterCard again. They begin to see things my way.


In a few days, all my boys will leave for summer camp. I cannot sleep at night, since I am alternately excited and then unnerved by the very thought of their absence. Despite all the ruckus they cause, I’m going to miss them.

My daughter assures me that I should not worry, that she will still be here, keeping me company. “And if you miss the boys too much, Mommy, I’ll sing ‘Tomorrow’ for you again.” And that’s a promise.

Judy Gruen is an award-winning humorist whose most recent book is “Till We Eat Again: Confessions of a Diet Dropout.” Judy’s books, humor columns, and special parenting reports are all available through her web site, She welcomes your emails at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.