Originally published on July 8, 2011
Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group — East Bay
While my kids are giving their brains a break this summer, my head is working overtime.
I’m trying to learn the latest schedules for my kids’ summer camps and activities, which change weekly, along with the logistics of driving everyone around. It requires a lot of last minute cramming.
“Morning drop-offs at 8:30, 9 and 11 and afternoon pick ups at 12, 12:30 and 2,” I recite to myself. “Swim lesson at 4, swim lesson at 4, swim lesson at 4,” I say over and over, trying to commit it to memory.
My brain gets lazy during the school year, when the routine stays pretty much the same. For nine months, I manage the schedule and logistics by rote. I slide by, without much thinking at all.
But during the summer, I really have to apply myself, in order to learn everything I need to know. My kids offer tips.
“Note cards,” advises my high school daughter. “You learn the information while writing it down, and then you can use the note cards to study.”
I give the note cards a try, writing where I have to be at what time each day. It is useful because the schedule becomes clearer to me. However, I still manage to miss a pick up time and leave my daughter waiting.
“I think I need to test you on the note cards,” admonishes my daughter when I arrive late.
At home, with note cards in hand, my daughter quizzes, “Where’s your first drop off tomorrow?”
I know I have to be in Alameda, Piedmont and Rockridge, but I’m a little fuzzy on the order. Sensing my hesitation, my daughter answers, “First you go to Rockridge, next to Alameda and then back to Piedmont.”
Overhearing us, my youngest daughter pipes in, “Why don’t you use a mnemonic? It always helps me.”
In this case, it would be RAP (Rockridge, Alameda, Piedmont), which is easy to remember. But I know there’s one day when I have to go to Berkeley first to pick up a friend’s daughter. Not sure if BRAP would spring to mind.
My son enters the room dressed in his swim trunks and flip-flops. “Don’t I have a swim lesson now?” he asks.
My older daughter looks at the note cards and says reproachfully, “You don’t have anything written here about swim lessons.”
Oh boy, I forgot the swim lessons. I grab my car keys and son, and we race to the door.
As I’m leaving, my youngest daughter yells out, “Do what I do. When nothing else works, just write it on your hand.”
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