Family Practice: Spring Break 2012Written by Shannon Szyperski | | email@example.com
I sometimes wonder if teachers have any idea what they start when they send home certain assignments. For example, we recently encountered a bit of homework-induced family upheaval from a seemingly innocuous exercise in using future tense. The homework’s prompt was simple enough at first: “Write a paragraph telling what you and your family will be doing over Spring Break this year. Be sure to make your verbs future tense.”
Yet, what is simple for some turns into a rather touchy situation for others. My family would be the “others” in this scenario.
Since my husband, Mike, and I hadn’t mentioned anything, our son, Jack, immediately inquired about our spring break plans so that he could bang out his paragraph and get on with more important things like playing video games and arguing with his sister. My guess is that he was secretly excited to hear what fantastic, well-planned adventures we had in store for him during his academic hiatus. However, I’m quite certain my confused and nervous stammering quickly doused his hopes of a surprise Disney-type vacation.
“Hmm, let me go talk to Daddy for a minute.”
At least we weren’t caught completely unprepared. In fact, Mike and I had already discussed a few regional getaway options. However, after some debate about whether we were ready to leave our new dog at home alone overnight and whether our getaway options would be better summertime activities, we had semi-decided on a more unconventional option. In an unprecedented move, we had agreed to possibly take the money we would have spent on travel and buy a new TV with it.
Before judgement is passed on the legitimacy of our idea to trade family togetherness for a 40-inch flat-panel LCD, let me at least introduce our current TV. The front panel broke off when we hauled it to a restaurant for my mom’s 60th surprise birthday party, which was seven years ago. No doubt that such a thing is only a minor cosmetic issue and, despite that little abdominal scar, the TV has continued to function in an acceptable manner.
Indeed, there have been times when we thought we might be losing her. A weird light spot here and there or an odd flip of the screen and we assumed we might finally be headed for flat-panel land. Yet, she has always seemed to make a miraculous recovery, which I hate to admit has been increasingly disappointing as the years go by.
As much as I usually advocate for the appreciation and preservation of an object with history, I can’t help but want to put the ol’ girl, aka our 27-inch Panasonic, out of our misery. At this point, her remote is long gone and she is missing three of her six on-set buttons, the only pieces we had left of her original control system. We can still flip through the TV/Video options and turn the channel, but it now takes a pencil, some surgical skills and a bit of patience. I have to be honest, the use-a-pencil process has grown tiresome.
Furthermore in our defense, had we known that televisions would become significantly thinner and produce a superior picture just a couple of years after we bought ours, we wouldn’t have spent so much time making sure we picked out the most reliable model. Still, we accepted that we were stuck with our once-stellar choice.
After some very quick discussion, Mike and I decided to reveal our whole mini-vacation-turned-TV-staycation plan to Jack. His reaction was mixed. While he was excited at the prospect of a new TV, he was disappointed that it still didn’t come with ESPN. While he was glad to finally have something to write about, he rightfully declared, despite my urging, that he would not be explaining what we were originally going to do as part of his paragraph. In his words, “that would be the past tense.” In attempting to keep with his future tense instructions, he instead went with:
“My family and I will be getting a flat-screen TV on Spring Break. I will be watching a lot of TV shows when we get the TV. I will also be having a great time when I get my new TV.”
Please tell the award committee to send our “Parents of the Year” prize to our home next month, as we will no doubt be there “watching a lot of TV shows.”
Shannon Szyperski and her husband, Michael, are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at letters@toledo freepress.com.