Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How can summer vacation be busier than the school year?

My kids finished school on May 28th.  We had a quiet entry into the "lazy days of summer" and allowed ourselves a week or two of quiet times.  We watched TV & movies did some reading for fun (NOTHING from the official reading lists they have to deal with before returning to school) then the summer camps started. 

The schedule seemed much more manageable on paper in the spring than it's felt as the summer steams along.  None of the camps that the kids were signed up for were for more than 3 hours a day, and the longest one was only 3 weeks.  The fact that they are scheduled so closely together that some weeks there were over laps (there was one week that 3 camps at once) was expected to be and indeed proved to be the biggest scheduling challenge.  That said that ,week of the 3 camps was a logistical issue for me more than the kids as each kid had only 2 camps.  They both had art camp in the morning, my son had rowing camp in the afternoon and my daughter marching band mini camps in the evening. 

It might have been easier if I was simply doing the "mom's taxi" and generally supportive mom in the background. But no, I am teaching art classes in the same art camp my kids are attending.  Teaching is a mixed blessing for me.  I love to watch the enthusiasm some kids approach their projects with.  I love to see them grow enthusiastic over projects they looked quite skeptical about when I was introducing them.  But I have to find a place in my heart to overcome my frustration when some kids don't try or don't understand my explanations.  I don't think I am cut out to be an elementary school art teacher.  I love to watch the kids growth but I don't have the right kind of temperament or mind set at this point in my life to deal with blank stares and idle hands all year long.  All that said, this year I've been blessed with kids who seem to want to be in my class, not just kids whose parents wanted to give them something to do. 

One of my favorite moments so far this art camp was seeing an impish grin when I asked one of my students if wet felting was her favorite project.  We made wet felted beads the first day of class, and just about every day that she's finished a bit early she's requested more wool and made one or more wool balls.  Today she had some that she made last week that were bone dry and she glued them into the bristly acorn caps from the sawtooth oak.  We are needle felting eyes onto the balls and they are adorable.

Another great moment was to see one of my returning students (from previous year's classes) literally l jump for joy when I told her were were going to bubble paint and paint with marbles.  Bubble painting is pretty much what it sounds like - we paint with bubbles.  I have shallow bowls with a solution of acrylic paint, water and dish washing soap.  The kids get a straw and some paper.  They are actually told to blow bubbles into the soapy paint water and when the bubbles are an inch or two above the lip of the bowls they touch the paper to the bubbles.  The effect is a bit different every time but you always end up with a nearly magical print of a cross section of a mound of colored bubbles.  If you get enough people blowing paint bubbles it sounds like a cartoon science lab. 

I spend more time then I probably should rethinking my projects, hoping that I can find 10 days of projects that every kid will like or get something from learning.  That's probably a bit unrealistic.  The way my class is structured we do a different technique every day, some days we do several.  Monday we did mono-prints using paint & bubbles, and marbles, stencils and sponge painting, and even with 4 techniques I still had a couple of kids try everything once and decide that was enough and do no more, even if there was 30 minutes left in class.  Well, I think one of them finished early to return to wet felting wool.  Today we started doing collages, we do collages in some form every year.  Largely in part because a couple of my regular students would be very distressed if I took them out of the line up.  When one of those regulars saw the room set up this morning she visibly glowed with excitement.  That is always a good way to start a class.

Something must be going well because I've had a couple of mothers ask if I ever taught this class for adults, and a couple tell me they could not wait until their younger kids were old enough to sign them up.

If you have been following my earlier posts you will know that I am a "band mom" with all the commitment that could possibly entail.  As of June 1st I am now the president of the high school music boosters.  It's a bit daunting and I hope I can live up to the expectations of the more experienced boosters and to my own expectations.  There will be a lot of work, actually there has already been a fair amount of work inventorying and cleaning uniforms, finding them after the school changed the uniform storage without telling anyone where they had hid/stored them.  But the parents I've worked with so far are a great group and the kids are as hard working and dedicated a group of teens as I've ever had the privilege to work with. 

Next week art camp will be over for another year (unless I do end up offering an adult mixed media class), the kids will be at the beach and we have one quiet week before band camp starts on August 2nd.  School resumes on August 18th and bam! summer will be over.

But I hope to enjoy what's left of this hot, humid & insanely busy season - I hope you enjoy what ever season you are experiencing right now!