Summertime and the livin's soooo not easy. This time of year's not at all like the beer commercials make it out to be - all pools and Popsicles. For me it's more like Paxil and a short-term stay at a mental-health hospital.

Wait, how much more summer is left? Make that a long-term stay.

Not. Gonna. Survive.

Summer is just too insane for working parents. Was I complaining earlier about schlepping kids to school and after-school activities? I take it all back. Summer is three different summer camps with three different schedules for three different kids, which means that every hour to two hours, I have to take someone somewhere or pick someone up. No exaggeration.

Plus, to add insult to injury, camps cost serious cash. It's not like public school, which is, ya know, totally free. Except for the suggested $180 donation to pay for art and PE and then the periodic requests to send in lined paper, boxes of Kleenex, anti-bacterial wipes, toilet paper, cash to pay the teachers. Summer camps charge real money - to be paid upfront.

But what's a girl who doesn't have a reliable Lassie-type dog to watch over her brood to do? Just kidding. I wouldn't let a dog watch my kids. Well, not our dogs anyway. They're completely irresponsible. And, to put it delicately, intellectually challenged. Example: They quite often forget that we belong in our house and bark at us. For hours.

I know I can't possibly be alone in feeling this utterly bitter and annoyed about summer. I'll bet if a bunch of us parents revolted, we could overturn this dumb, outdated agricultural-based calendar in favor of something that would help everyone: public, year-round boarding school! Who's with me?!

Really, though, why do we continue to take a way-too-long, three-month break that generations ago was great for farmers who needed the kids to pitch in with harvesting wheat or whatever. This is not our way of life any more. Bread comes from the store. Now we have pesky child-labor laws, which the kids remind me of when I ask them to do chores.

However, I'm afraid that if we do continue to persist with summer "vacation," my children will forget so much of what they've learned that a job picking oranges may be all they can handle. The other day No. 3 actually asked me how to spell "the." In another few weeks, I am going to be reteaching the alphabet.

And it's not like the 100-degree-plus heat makes any of this more tolerable. We're all irritable and on edge. So if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to do some recipe testing and see if I can't solve all my problems by creating a frozen, anti-anxiety confection. Paxicle, anyone?

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. Cook and her family recently went on the All-American, Desert Dweller road trip to the Grand Canyon and Vegas. "Yay! Let's go to the Grand Canyon!" said no child. Ever. Two out of three kids wouldn't even set foot in the visitor's center.