By NICK CHILES
One of these days I need to ask my parents if they felt the same way about the summertime as I do. I remember long hot days of fun stretching out before me in an endless string. Something tells me they have a different recollection.
I say this because we are in June, which means I am now in the midst of my annual spewing of nasty curses directed at that bizarre invention known as summer vacation. (In case you didn't know, down here in the South, our kids get out of school in late May.) My new definition of summertime is a cruel string of endless days that seem designed to prevent grown folks from ever getting any work done because we are forced to spend most of the day either batting away bored children buzzing around our heads like pesky mosquitoes in search of blood, or we are forced to spend most of the day shuttling our young ones to and from camps whose start and end times seem to have no relationship to any grown folks work schedule I have ever come across.
My wife and I have tried on a daily basis to cram a simple idea into our kids' heads: just because we work from home doesn't mean we don't work, and just because YOU are on summer vacation doesn't mean that we are also some kind of vacation that allows us to play Scrabble with you at 2 in the afternoon. The idea doesn't appear to have breached the hard protective covering of their brains.
Every year I smile when I hear some genius on the radio point out that the school schedule we use was created a century ago when most kids had to work on the family farm during harvest season and couldn't stay in school. That's fine information, but it doesn't appear that knowing such a thing has compelled any education official to make any attempts to change the school schedule. So we are stuck with summer vacation, and parents like me who work from home are trapped in a world of bored kids and inconveniently scheduled camps. (To say nothing of the disturbing fact that most kids lose like a half semester's worth of learning during summer vacation. But no, let's not worry about such minor trifles like knowledge oozing from their brains like a leaky faucet during each day of summer vacation.)
Oh, and don't get me started on the subject of the summer bedtime schedule for the young people. The whole topic has me in such a state of bewilderment that I am surprised I can even finish writing this piece. It makes no sense at all how these reasonably rational children could suddenly conclude that because it's summer vacation, they can just go to sleep whenever they want to. You wouldn't have even wanted to be there to see my reaction the night when my 7-year-old started crying because we announced that she had to go to bed at 12:20 AM! Homegirl was dead serious. And one last thing why the hell is the Cartoon Network still on the air after midnight anyway?!
Okay. I'm done.
Have a great summer.
Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including the upcoming "The Rejected Stone: Al Sharpton and the Path To American Leadership," which he co-authored with Al Sharpton.