Summer Math, A Huge Downer

From DJ's Summer Reading List

Posted by Danny

We didn’t have to learn in the summer when I was a kid.  Now a days there’s a summer reading packet, asummer  math packet and Stephanie has to learn the Catechism for church homework.  I turned out to be a reasonably intelligent, successful dude without formal training in June, July or August.

When I was a kid, we learned from each other when school was out, not a book.  Tracy McDonnell taught me about the female anatomy in our above ground swimming pool while my dad mowed the lawn around the perimeter. 

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Sounded good to me.  With murky water and no goggles, she could have shown me her elbow and I would have been impressed.  But that hot July day in 1973, I left the pool at least knowing there was something different about her from me.  Why else would she want to cut that deal?  Although I still wasn’t sure what it was.

We played hide in go seek until 10 pm on Friday nights on our cul-de-sac on Berkshire Road. There were ten of us.  That experience taught me to stick with the big guy.  Any time I hid with my older brother or Mike Mask, I came out a winner.

We played Boyland each week – if the boys caught the girls we could do whatever we wanted to them.  It usually consisted of making them play matchbox cars in the big dirt hole in the backyard.  I think Tracy wanted to do something else.  The art of persuasion in action.

At one point, my brother and I got a bow with darts that had suction cups on the end.  We stood in a vacant house storage room and shot the darts at a friend’s butt until they eventually stuck.  This was no easy task and taught me a great deal about perseverance.  I not sure what our target learned…perhaps true friendship???

At our church, some person back in the 1950’s set up an endowment where the proceeds are used to give each 5th grader $50 bucks if they memorize the Catechism.  In my opinion, having to memorize this epistle could turn you from a true follower of Jesus Christ to an atheist in a quick minute.  I don’t think God intended for us to memorize the thing – just to basically understand the jest and work to live by it.

“Stephanie, you’re gonna learn how much God loves you if it kills you!  Get to memorizing!  You’re only on question 6.”  I’ve got some repair work to do for poor Stephanie who I insisted follow through on this assignment.

My kids sob about their summer math homework.  Learning the Catechism has been like pulling teeth.  There is a summer reading list we’re crunched to complete, primarily because I didn’t start pushing it until late June.  Even I needed a break from the homework. 

I’d have to quit my job to finish five chapter books in a summer.  I don’t know how they do it.

I do hope that all of this work pays off.  Perhaps Stephanie will become a Presbyterian minister and work to remove the Catechism from the curriculum.  From the looks of it, Michelle’s gonna be stronger in an addition field than one that requires significant talents in subtraction.  Those pages cause the most tears.  I look ahead and assign them when the babysitters with us.  But I think that’s bad parenting. 

DJ’s gonna be our author.  You’ve read some of her stuff.  For her school, she had to pick one of six books to read and report on by the end of August.  Miss Overachiever said, “I’ll just read them all.  Got to have something to do at rest period at camp.”

Me?  I’m choosing to stick to my old patterns of experiential summer learning.  Thinking of building a pool.

Leave a comment


  1. Priscilla

     /  July 25, 2011

    What would I do without my laugh for the day. Go, Dad!

  2. Dave K

     /  July 25, 2011

    If you build that pool, you need a waterproof Catechism to take in there with you. Nothing wrong with being well-catechized.

  3. Aunt Susan

     /  July 25, 2011

    You only thought you weren’t learning. And way to go D.J. a girl I can relate to!

  4. Wayne

     /  July 25, 2011

    I’m learning so much about your child hood I never knew. I’d love to be around when you are old like me and you discover all the things your children are doing that you don’t know about. But what the heck, i remember the summer my cousin gave me a few anatomy lessons when I was about that age! (Unfortunately her mother discovered that school was in session and school was dismissed for the summer.).. Dad

  5. Very good!

    I’m with you — memorizing catechism sucks regardless of the religion.


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