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Good Indian Mom: Summer Breaks

My parents weren’t big believers in summer BREAKS, as it turns out.  My siblings and I would go to bed each night longing for a morning of sleeping in, only to be woken up day after day at 7:00am by the sounds of the pressure cooker whistle and/or by the voice of M.S. Subbulakshmi whose job apparently wasn’t only to wake God up with her music.  Shortly thereafter, my father would enter with instructions on all the chores he expected done before he came home from work.  And so the day would begin, hours before any of our self-respecting classmates would even dream to rouse from slumber.

We would grouse and complain, but we could do nothing about the fact.  Our Tam Brahm forefathers had been genetically engineered to start each and every day either with, or before, the sun.  How could we expect to fight the system?  Instead we swore to (famous last words), “never be like our parents.”

Fast forward many years later.  I am now faced with the prospect of trying to figure out how my three kids are to spend their time over their summer break.  The  eternal struggle between my “white” and my desi sides rages on.  Do I let them sleep in and laze around, knowing that they have earned the right to some R and R?  Do I teach them that life doesn’t allow you much downtime, so “get while the getting is good?”  Read to expand your mind, practice math to keep up your skills, do housework so no on thinks you are lazy or that I’ve raised spoiled children?  Just when I decide to let them be, I get updates from my “go get ‘em” friends about all of the amazing camps and classes they have found for their kids.  After I hurriedly steer my kids down the path of academia, look up Khan Academy courses, and check out the pamphlets from the Tutoring Club, my soccer mom friends ask why my kid is “the only one” not signed up for a sleep away soccer camp.  Great.  Now I have to worry if I’ve doomed my son to a season as a benchwarmer.

I don’t know what the answer is.  Is there an answer?   Common sense tells me that one way doesn’t work for all, but as I leave the house every morning, I have to make the decision for the day: go in and tell my grown daughter to have dinner ready by the time I come home exhausted from work, or let her enjoy this last summer of her childhood with her friends and Twitter and YouTube. Is it okay in the uber competitive world we live in today, to just not have any summer plans?


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