August Men's Room

Too short summer


know that not many children read WILMA, but in the off chance that you are a kid, I hope you find that this piece will help you cope with your sense of dread that the late summer often brings when it’s time for school to start.

In short, I have some good news and bad news. The good news is: It’s back to school time! The bad news is: There’s not much you can do about it.

So actually, I guess it’s all bad news if you are a kid. That good news part was really for your parents. Sorry, but life is like that way sometimes.
Let’s move on.

There are few things that kids cherish more than summer break. As if being a kid weren’t easy enough. Where else can you live some place at no charge, watch TV, and just hang out with minimal responsibility?

As an adult, your choices are few, like spending time in prison, but with a greater probability of mealtime stabbings.

Summer vacation is not a strictly American tradition. It’s observed all over the world. Depending on where you live, summer break ranges from two to three months. (Note: Kids in the Netherlands get shafted. Summer vacation is only about six weeks long, and those wooden shoes do not breathe well in the heat.)

But here in the good ol’ USA, summer vacation is awesome. Unfortunately, like all great things, it has to come to an end.

For a historical perspective, please enjoy the following factual information about the origin of summer vacation carefully researched using the best Internet sites available:

Contrary to what many people believe, summer vacation did not start because of our traditional agrarian society. In fact, before the mid-19th century, two school calendars were commonly observed: one for rural farming communities that took time off from school to help in the fields during the planting and harvest seasons, and another schedule for urban areas, which got four shorter breaks spread throughout the year.

In the 1840s, however, a group of wise “educational reformers” chose to combine the two calendars out of concern that “over-stimulating young minds could lead to insanity” and that packing students into sweltering non-air conditioned classrooms would “promote the spread of disease.”

And there you have it. 

Summer vacation was created to prevent children from turning into a generation of sweaty, disease-carrying lunatics.

And – unlike many other ideas that came out of the 18th century, like steamboats and child labor – the modern concept of summer vacation is still embraced by kids of all ages.

So kids, enjoy the last few days of summer vacation before your awful parents make you go back to school.

Buy a calendar so you can start marking off the days until the next summer vacation, which is the only thing that’s saving you from losing your mind and contracting a deadly new strain of drug- resistant pink eye.

To view more of illustrator Mark Weber's work, go to