Ready to Hang Up That Beach Towel? The Importance of Structure For Our Kids

TeenagersIs it terrible that I want school to start?

The school year and I have a love-hate relationship. When August rolls around, and you are just plain tired of battling the humidity, smelling sunscreen and yelling that someone needs to cut the lawn, I just feel ready to hang up that beach towel.

Then September hits. With the crisp snap in the air and the back-to-school shopping.  I love the structure of the school year. Wait, what Christopher? You want to have your three best buds sleep over on Tuesday?  Oh, yeah . . . no, sorry . . . it’s a school night.

That’s my personal favorite!  I love knowing where my kid is every day, during the day, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. I love the quiet that homework brings, or in my case, “kind of” quiet peppered with a lot of moaning about evaluating negative components and complaining “why on earth do I even need to know this???” (which I secretly agree with, but I won’t tell him that).

Then the dreaded realities of what is known as the “school year” set in.  The pit that forms in my stomach every time I open my email and see Christopher’s Social Studies teacher’s name in my inbox. Or even better, the fear that three little numbers can invoke – the “946” exchange of his middle school blazing across the screen of my cell phone . . . what has he gotten into, now . . . And the conversations about why you can’t wear jeans with a tiny rips in them, while the girls are showing off more leg skin than HE is showing on his entire body with said jeans (again, I secretly agree but won’t tell him that . . . Jeez this kid has a point . . . )  And tell me please, where can I find MORE creative ways to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Don’t get me wrong, summer is fun. Light outside until 9:00, beach days, carnivals, walkson the beach, fire pits and friends. And – on Tuesdays.  Although, anyone in a similar position to myself knows that with summer comes all the above entertaining and the need for money to magically appear. I mean, $40.00 for a carnival?  To walk away with a sticky paper wristband for rides and a stuffed panda bear that’s only going to collect dust over the winter? And with those sleep-overs, the groceries needed to feed four boys who are sleeping until what becomes lunchtime rather than breakfast time.  I need a second job to fund all the entertainment requirements of my 13-year-old.  He loves summer and all of it’s spur-of-the-moments while I look forward to the structure September provides.

Why? Because structure is good for our kids. Limits are good for our kids. SLEEP is good for our kids. With that valuable education they are gaining during the months of September to June, structure is in place and limits are set. No you can’t have a sleepover during the week and the cell phone will be handed in at 9:30. And yes, time for bed, it’s 10:00.

My son settles in for the night, dreaming of the properties of integer exponents, and more importantly whether or not Melanie will say hi to him during lunch, while I figure out if bacon really does taste good on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Written By: Tara Raucci