School is out for everybody now – the middle and high school kids get out around the 20th of June, and the primary school finishes on the 30th.
Which means that, barring a complete change in human nature, mothers will be hearing “Ima, I’m bored!” many times during the next two months.
Our yishuv sponsored a series of workshops the past month for parents on how to prepare for the summer, and it focused mainly on the potential problems faced by parents of teenagers with too much time on their hands. The younger teens are especially at risk, because they are too young to work (the summer camp counselors locally need to be graduates of 10th grade minimum) and are too old for organized day camp.
The yishuv sponsors a bus to the local pool once or twice a week, and the youth counselor (a hired position on our yishuv) organizes some activities, but many parents organize “parent camps” to fill in the gaps. The problem with this is that each group is a world unto itself.
My seventh grader is set – the parents in this group are super organized and we have five days of activities planned out (today is the separate beach in Tel-Aviv, next week is a walking tiyul, etc.). My eighth grader is not so lucky. There is no one “leader” amongst the parents – and I couldn’t take it on since I was so busy at work until yesterday.
In addition to the activities, the educators who spoke during the workshops emphasized the importance of having some structure to the day – even a minimal one. Too many teenagers turn night into day, and end up sleeping most of the morning away (or the whole day!) and then hanging out at night.
We put our foot down and insisted on a curfew – of 12:00am. For those of you who live in a city it may seem pretty late for a 14 year old – but here in yishuvim it is considered “normal” or “early”. The “problem” that we have in yishuvim is that the kids, and some parents, assume that it is safe here, and there is nothing dangerous about the kids hanging out until very late. I am lucky in that I have only boys – and they have a halachic (pertaining to Jewish law) obligation to pray with a minyan (a quorum of 10 men). The latest minyan here is 8:15am – so that morning deadline keeps them from sleeping too late (and yes, we have to wake them up, occasionally with the warning that if it is too hard to get up in the morning, then you’ll have to go to sleep earlier at night….).
My kids are reluctant to go to the library, so I go for them, and make sure to bring back four books at a time. That way I know that at least one will catch their interest. Of course the DVD gets an extra workout during the summer, too.
A little boredom is not bad. Two months of boredom is not good for anyone. I wish my readers an enjoyable and safe summer!