Parents and teachers have antithetical views on the summer months. As an educator, I view the golden days of June and July as a reprieve, a chance to go out and soak up as much leisure time as my wallet can sustain in order to gird my loins for the upcoming winter. Like a bear preparing for recreational hibernation, I store the sustenance of relaxation in every sinew of my body for the months of famine ahead. I leave the red pens on my desk, reclaim something that others call a weekend, and bask in the knowledge that no one will call my name and I can go to the bathroom any darn time I want.
Parents, on the other hand, hear the month of June approaching with the footsteps of a T-Rex. They know that the children they dearly love are about to become available for cherishing on a consistent Manic-Monday-to-Manic-Monday basis. They know that 48-seat golden chariot will not be stopping by to whisk their darlings away and that they will now have to pull a parental double shift with overtime on weekends for the next 8 weeks. In the North I think parents depend on an institution called camp to take some of the anaphylactic shock out of June, but down in the South we rely on something closer to home: VBS.
VBS is technically the acronym for Vacation Bible School, but it took parents about the time it takes to make a pitcher of sweet tea to figure out that what churches are really offering is free-babysitting. Sure, the kids can learn Bible stories, eat butter cookies and make macaroni picture frames that last about the time it takes to get them home in the car, but the true beauty behind this program is that they take four hours to do all that. And what parent couldn’t use four child-free hours in any given day? So when the Baptists put up the sign for VBS on a vinyl banner strung between two trees, every Methodist, Holiness, Independent, and Free Will citizen in the community scurries over to chug a Pepsi Cola and sign up their kid. They figure they’ve got the rest of July to purge any heresies their children pick up, and the Baptists are offering 20 free hours of childcare if you just sign on the dotted line. Doctrine is one thing, but an uninterrupted hour of The Young and Restless without Timmy nailing Susan on the head with a Tonka truck is another.
With churches as abundant as gnats around a nose, you could play your cards right and line up a different VBS for most weeks of the summer. One lady almost made it into the Parent Hall of Fame with a record of six consecutive weeks and five glorious days of overlap when she hit upon two churches, in an effort not to compete with each other, who staggered their services and offered one VBS in the morning and one at night. Sheer bliss.
So when the seismic rumblings of a prehistoric creature start pounding your way, remember that help is only a dotted line away. A little extra morality lessons in June go a long way toward nervous system preservation in July.
© 2013 – Traci Carver