There are parents out there who get their kids to write their book reports in the first week of summer. I know happy well-adjusted human beings whose offspring hammer away at their workbooks all three months, little by little, one day at a time.

None of those people live in my house.

My kids view June as “We just got done with school! Pass the ice cream.” and we say, “You know what? You’re right. Also, this sundae needs whipped cream. Let’s eat.”

July is still too soon. We’ve got fireworks and barbecue and there are swimming lessons. Momentary diligence requires we find the books assigned, and make a visit to the library. That’s enough virtue for one month.

August shows up. Mustering energy to move beyond the bare minimum, I realize we’ve lost three of the books, one kid is on lesson two, and another child is working backwards through the book. I go into panic mode and begin suggesting I’ll feed them only vegetables if they don’t start to knuckle down. It works for two of the kids, but another one really likes leafy stuff, so for her, it isn’t much of a threat. I unplug the Wi-Fi. Now we’re serious.

We get two days of diligence out of my newfound academic leadership, which is more than can be said for the past two months, but fatigue sets in, and with the first offer of the dog days of summer, “Hey, I’ve got baseball tickets!” or “Pool party at five today,” that discipline evaporates. We get to two weeks from the first day of school, we go school shopping. We buy school clothing and the kids remember, they will have to go into the classroom soon. Some of them begin to peel away from the bliss of the hammock and comic books.  Others come asking of all people, me, for help.

We spend the next week getting on top of things. The book reports look beautiful. The posters glitter. Everyone’s done with math. We breathe a collective sigh of relief and celebrate with a family movie and I explain to the kids, there’s a secret to getting your work done early. Live with some other family. It won’t work for everyone, because if you move in with us, it will take until the last week of August.

However, you will get ice cream.