After a long internal debate (you're welcome for sparing you the agony), I've decided to take the summer off of school. I was awarded a fellowship through UVU to continue researching the Woman's Exponent, which will keep me busy and also mentally stimulated. But I get a little nervous thinking about that long expanse of summer days, completely structureless and full of children. Enter my brilliant new idea--Project: Best.Summer.Ever.
Project: Best.Summer.Ever. is my plan to stay sane and engaged during the next three and a half months. Phase One is planning. During the month of May, I'm going to scout out great ideas for things to do, places to go, goals to accomplish. Then from June through August it's Phase Two: Go Time. Finally Phase Three is the cool-down phase, where we ease back into school and regular life. (Okay, Phase Three is kind of a joke at this point, but you can't have a plan with just two phases. It's like only having two Stooges, there has to be three. I'll work on a better Phase Three later.)
The real genius of the plan is in the name. You've heard the phrase "fake it till you make it"? Well, this is "name it until you brainwash your kids." That's right--the goal here is not to overschedule the kids until they weep with submission every night, nor is it to actually create the best summer ever--it's to say, over and over again, that this is the best summer ever until they start believing it themselves! We normally do some swim lessons in the summer; this year, they are going to be referred to as the Best.Swim Lessons.Ever. Because who doesn't want to do that?! We're going on the Best.Campout.Ever, eating the Best.Barbequed.Hamburgers.Ever, watching the Best.Minor.League.Baseball.Games.Ever. See? All the stuff that we already do, just made more impressive, and therefore more fun, by the name. Can you hear my evil cackle from where you are? It's loud.
Two years ago, we had what I thought was a fairly miserable Christmas. The basement flooded and I was stressed out by that to the point where I didn't even make Christmas dinner and instead we went out to the only restaurant open in Orem, the Chinese buffet down the street. No one felt the same way I did, though--the kids got their presents, spent the day playing and basically thought it was great. Then last year, what was just a standard Christmas got labeled by one of the kids as the "best Christmas ever." Ryan joked that we'd cancel next Christmas, since it couldn't get any better, and Zack believed him, at least for a minute. Other than the flooded basement, which is sure to get any homeowner down, the main difference between the two Christmases was labels. I labeled one Christmas a failure and the other a success. I look back on one in regret and the other in fondness. I don't want to do that with this summer.
Project: Best.Summer.Ever. is for me, mostly. If I give it a great label, then I'm going to try to live up to it, make it what it should be. It's the structure that I crave and that the kids secretly crave as well. And it's also a program of psychological warfare, which makes every summer better, don't you think?