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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summertime Blues

by Jody Worsham All rights reserved for normal parenting classes.

There was an article recently in our semi-local newspaper entitled “50 Ways to Keep Kids Active”. Heading into my sixth week of no school with a five year old and a nine year old, I eagerly scanned the list for ways to keep them occupied and out of the police report.

Of the list of fifty, there were only about ten specific activities for children. The rest was a long diatribe of rules and policies such as “limit TV and computer time”, duh, “exercise more” duh duh, “do things with your kids”, duh, duh, duh.

So in a humanitarian effort to help other struggling parents, I have concocted my own list of activities to keep kids out of your hair, out of your make-up, and out of the living room.

1) Have a crayon melting pool. Charge each kid twenty-five cents for a chance to determine exactly how long it will take a box of crayons to melt on a piece of aluminum starting at 11 A.M. Winner receives the money pool and the melted crayons. To make this activity last longer, put the crayons in the freezer the night before and don’t tell the kids.

2) Call your child’s teacher for next year on a cell phone while parked across the street from her house and schedule a conference at the teacher’s home. As an interested parent you want to make sure your child gets off to a good start. Then let the kids take turns guessing how long before the teacher jumps in her car and drives away. For added fun, follow her…at least until she crosses the state line.

3) The night before, unplug everything except the refrigerator. The kids will spend at least thirty minutes waiting for the TV to come on or the computer to boot up. This could be longer if you have dial up on your computer. Then let them take turns trying to figure out why nothing works. By noon everything should be plugged back in if your children are exceptionally bright.

4) When you go to the grocery store or the local mega mart drop the kids off at the front door while you “park the car”. Hide the car behind the store. Then when you check out, send your kids on with the grocery cart and the car keys and you stay behind on the pretext of having forgotten something. However, before giving them the car keys, remove the batteries from the key chain so the car horn will not sound. After about an hour and after you have enjoyed a nice quiet iced coffee, go out to the parking lot and follow the trail of melting ice cream until you find your kids again and get the car.

5) Anytime the children say “I’m bored”, sit them down in a circle and proceed to tell them about when you were a kid until they find something interesting to do. This one actually only takes about five seconds but guaranteed to keep them away for at least two hours.

6) Give your shopping list and the sales ads to the children. Have them find and list the store with the highest price and the lowest price for the items you need. Give them the phone book so they can call the stores if any of your items are not on sale. Agree to give them the difference in the highest and lowest price for food items when they have completed the list. Be sure to include cumquats, venison jerky, and bamboo shoots on your list. Also make sure you block long distance calls on your phone.

7) Give your children nail clippers and tell them to trim the grass around the flower bed.

8) The night before staple several dollar bills to a tree. The next morning tell the children you are going out to the money tree to pick a few dollars. They may argue that “money doesn’t grow on trees” but tell them that is a saying Daddy uses. Then let them watch you pick the money. Afterwards, give them a spoon and a handful of pennies and tell them to plant their own money tree.

9. Let them grow their own desserts. Give them some apple seeds, peach pits, and plumb pits and a garden trowel.

10) Hook up their video games to a stationary bicycle and a small generator. The more they peddle, the longer they can play.

11) Get a calendar and list the date and time of every Vacation Bible School within a fifty mile radius. Create carpools with other desperate parents. If you are lucky you may find a VBS that meets from 7:30a.m.-12:00 noon, one that meets from l:00p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and another that meets 6pm.-8p.m. on the same day. The children will have the benefit of being able to quote every verse in the Bible and you will be able to formulate a coherent sentence.

12) When you have had an especially dry spell, tell the children you have discovered a secret Indian rain dance. Create some wild dance steps that stop just short of a visit to the chiropractor and teach it to the children. Put them in the back yard and have them dance all afternoon. If they begin to lose interest, take the water hose in the front yard and shoot a stream over the roof into the backyard. This will keep them motivated for another two hours.

While this list is certainly shorter than the fifty listed in the newspaper and probably will not be found on any educational website, it will keep your little ones busy.

If you need additional ideas, tell the oldest child that unless he or she can come up with additional activities for the others, be prepared to baby sit for the rest of the summer. That will almost guarantee an endless supply of activities. Just be sure you lock up your car keys, power tools, passports, and credit cards or you may discover that one of their “fun” activities is building a bridge in London or creating a trap for Leprechauns in Ireland.


Sharon said...

Jody, where were you when my kids were that age? I could have used these suggestions. So funny!!

Marti said...

Oh my God - my sides ache from laughing! This is one of your funniest pieces ever!