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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Good luck keeping kids to their books this summer

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

So OK, school’s out.

What are adults using in 2018 to scare kids into making academic progress over the summer?

Let’s consider a few of the possibilities.

Sputnik (and falling behind Commie kids who could use a slide-rule): Uh, that’s a bit dated.

Red menace (modern version): Your kids are probably too young to intern with Robert Mueller.

“Do you want to end up flipping burgers all your life?”: Perhaps the youth in question envisions opening an artisanal burger joint some day.

Globalization: Well, it wouldn’t hurt to have kids acquire some additional language skills. But until they know the difference between “your” and “you’re” they still have work to do on their English. Unless they plan on careers as online commenters.

Falling behind kids in China: For the child who reads country-of-origin labels on consumer products, this might produce a moment of pause.

Inculcate a lifelong love of learning: This isn’t really a scare tactic but it’s great if you can help make this happen.

Paycheck/Father’s Day story

Longtime reader Bill Mahaney shared this.

“My first ‘real paycheck’ was sweet and bitter.

“When I graduated from high school in 1958, prior to beginning at Dartmouth, I got a job at a chemical warehouse thanks to the top salesman and the owner (both Dartmouth alumni). I was paid $3.60 an hour for 40 hours with a guaranteed five (or more) hours of overtime at time and a half. (Before that, my couple of jobs in restaurants paid $1 an hour cash.)

“Even given withholding, I was stunned at the amount of my take-home pay. Multiplying it by the 15 weeks I’d be working that summer, I calculated that I’d have more than enough to supplement my free ride (room, board, tuition) at Dartmouth, but also have sufficient time to enjoy summer without needing money from my parents. I began to feel like a man. My parents were delighted.

“But a couple of weeks later, I happened to see my father’s payroll stub. He had been working at the same funeral home for over 25 years. His take-home was $70 a week, way less than mine. Neither of us ever raised the issue. But my respect for my father grew geometrically.

“He had to drop out of preparatory school after both his parents died. He had to raise three younger sisters and he did not marry until they all were married. He married, raised two children (a third died in childhood), bought a home. We always had food, clothes, and shelter. And he always liked to hear laughter.”

Bill’s dad died of a massive coronary at 53.

Today’s drive-in/insects story

This comes from Donna Potter Phillips.

“In 1965, while living in Virginia, and when my Navy husband was deployed, I took my 2-year-old daughter to a drive-in movie. I tucked her into the back seat to sleep and enjoyed ‘The Americanization of Emily.’

“Being a warm night, the car windows were down.”

While Donna enjoyed the on-screen antics of James Garner and Julie Andrews, mosquitoes mauled her daughter in the back seat.

The little girl was scheduled for a photo session the next day. That had to be postponed until the facial welts went away.

What does the first album you ever bought say about you?

Did it accurately chart a course for the rest of your life? Did it reveal your true personality, even though you were just a kid at the time?

Mine was “Meet the Beatles!” And yes, I am insufferably smug about it. Even though I understand that a few other music lovers also purchased that album.

Well my heart went boom

When I crossed that room

And I held her hand in mine

Anyway, I invite you to share your thoughts about what your first album says about you.

I still have a coveted reporter’s notebook to give away. My last attempt came a cropper when none of the stories about signing a kid up for swimming lessons was quite what I wanted.

So please explain what that Led Zeppelin record or whatever said about you. I’m sure it’s nothing but good things.

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