He was spending an awful lot of time perfecting one of the tentacles. My 12-year-old, with help from his father, had already created the top half what would become a 10-foot-long squid created in sand on the beach at the Jersey Shore. But for now, he was busy trying to make one of the tentacles bend up and off the beach. If only he had that kind of patience for his math homework.
But it was July, and there was no homework, except, in his case, to find a drawing of a squid as a model for his four-hour project: The Giant Squid of 2009, Wildwood, NJ Edition.
Meanwhile, I sat under an umbrella and read Do-Over! a memoir by a man who tries to overcome the disappointments of his childhood by, well, doing them over, including summer camp and the prom.
As I looked up from my book, I thought of the article I’d read before our trip that asserted that, over the summer, kids forget a lot of what they learned in school, a.k.a. “The Summer Brain Drain.” It reported that most kids lose up to 2 1/2 months of math skills during summer break.
But my son was not doing math. He was making a squid — and a spectacular one at that. Kids who passed by said, “Whooooa!” and “Cool!” Adults praised his work, which was helped along by his father, who, I might add, was not doing math, either.
I remembered that the article also said that students can re-learn pretty quickly. Also ,that it didn’t say anything about the fact that my son will have just one quarter of art next year in middle school — a total of hours not much longer than he spent one day making his sandy squid. But art isn’t on any standardized tests, which is, perhaps, why you never hear anyone worrying about the Summer Art Drain.
My son rushed off to the ocean to get more water for his grand project, and I went back to reading my book, confident that there would be nothing about that day at the beach either one of us will ever want to fix in a do-over.
I mean, really. Creativity + Fun in the Sun? You do the math.