L. David Hesler is an author of fantasy, horror, and science fiction; he and his wife do not have children. This does not prevent him from attempting to be an expert. Behold his strategies for maintaining one’s sanity during the hazy summer months when kids are home and families feel bigger.
His methods may not be practical and his reasoning may not be sound – this is bad advice from L. David Hesler.
1) Pretend They Are Houseguests
Don’t treat your kids like the innocent and dependent children they have tricked you into believing they are; everyone knows that by the time a child is five years old, she has discovered that life is pretty much an extended stay at Club Mom, an all-inclusive resort where a few hours of education each day interrupt an otherwise awesome and carefree existence. If your child isn’t playing by the rules of the resort, show them to the door (to the backyard, of course). And don’t be afraid to ask for tips!
2) Put the Family Pets to Good Use
Fido might be a cuddly golden retriever who slobbers too much and tends to pee on the neighbor’s petunias; but he’s also a live-in nanny if you play your cards right. Before the school year ends, take an afternoon to bury or hide several of the treats and toys that your dog and child enjoy on a regular basis. As soon as the kids find themselves stuck at home with you for the rest of the summer, set them off on a quest with the family dog to dig up all those awesome goodies! Post hole diggers are particularly handy for hiding everything before summer begins.
3) Plan An Exotic Staycation
Vacations and road trips are expensive. The Internet is not. Using the magical tubes of the Internet, search for and print pictures of strange, faraway places like Kalamazoo or Humptulips. Post these printouts on the walls of your child’s bedroom and cook meals according to whatever location you have chosen. Some favorite staycation experiences include cheeseless nachos and lukewarm water while visiting the town of Boring, Oregon or alligator pizza and orange-soaked bagels while spending time in the city of Florida, New York. Share the experience with an entire family by watching the home videos of complete strangers online. Secondhand memories are priceless… literally.
4) Explore the Life of A Carny
Nothing screams summer louder than the county fair. This is one of the rare places where it is socially acceptable to wander aimlessly in a sleeveless shirt and cutoff shorts while double-fisting a funnel cake and jumbo corn dog, which were probably fried in the same batter used to cook a delicious fried pickle. Get the kids out of the house and into the midway for an exploration of the carny culture. Treat the trip like an educational expedition and encourage your child to spend some time observing the delicate details of the county fair. And, speaking of fair, if you haven’t been to a tanning booth lately, this will be a perfect opportunity to get that one-sided sunburn that’s only possible when you’ve spent most of your afternoon standing in lines.
5) Build A Cheap Piece of Art
Nothing brings a family together better than arts and crafts. As the old saying goes, “The family that uses craft glue together generally stays together because glue makes things sticky. Everywhere.” Encouraging your child to create art with random household objects is a great way to show them the value of thrift and to reinforce their growing suspicions that mom and dad are truly cheapskates. A spool of yarn, some tape, a package of paper plates and a few markers can go a long way in creating unique pieces of art, such as face masks or slightly more ornamental paper plates. Let your child’s imagination blossom at the lowest budget possible and reduce the boiling stress of summer to a slow simmer.
Though L. David Hesler isn’t an expert when it comes to keeping parents sane, he’s quite adept at making readers squirm. You can find new installments of his free serial “Deadtown” every Sunday at http://www.ldavidhesler.com through mid-July.
Crys and Manda