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Stars and Stripes Scene, Sunday, July 19, 2009

Never before have I tried to cram so much activity into one summer vacation. The jury remains out as to whether I am going to be able to pull it off or not. So far, I have managed to squeak by, but I’m heading into the busiest part of my summer as I write this.

Somehow, Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie will have to look after themselves for the next three days while I go to classes from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. My biggest worry as I head out the door this morning concerns what sort of things they will do to entertain themselves over the next three days.

I know there will probably be fireworks involved, as Jimmy had plenty left over from the Fourth of July. And surely, the boys will find a way to end up soaking wet at some point to combat the 95-degree temperatures outside.

Being boys, they will probably combine the coolness of water with their constant desire to fight with each other, resulting in an all-out water war. I just hope the battlefield is outside.

Most of the graduate classes I have been taking involve a little bit of time in the classroom followed by a lot of time writing and studying at home. Ron and the boys don’t like it one little bit, but they have all started to adapt to the fact that sometimes, they have to pick up after themselves and resolve their own conflicts.

At least, that’s what I hope will happen today while I’m in class, trying not to peek at the messages on my cell phone. More than once, I have listened to my voicemail during a break in class only to hear reports of how "bad" Jimmy is treating one of his brothers.

It’s a helpless feeling to stand there outside a classroom, trying to assure Ronnie that everything is going to be OK when I really want to get in my car, go home and "fix" the situation.

This problem occurs more often now that it is summer vacation and the boys have more time on their own to get into trouble. During the winter, they only had a few hours during my evening classes to torture one another and destroy our beautiful home.

At the moment, I’m letting them sleep as long as possible because that’s the only time I can be sure no one is fighting or making a mess. If the university offered overnight classes, I would probably sign up for those instead!

Besides going to class, I also have signed up to take the Graduate Record Examination in a couple of weeks, only because it is a requirement of the program I am in. Last week, I bought the study guide and attempted to do geometry for the first time since 1983.

I realize that my plans for this summer do not sound like much fun at all. To me, they are downright scary, especially when I think about taking an entrance exam for graduate school 20 years after I graduated from college.

Those young students sitting next to me in class are surely nervous about their exams, too, and balancing busy summer schedules of their own.

However, they don’t know about that fear deep in the pit of my stomach when I wonder what the Zich boys are doing to entertain themselves at home.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 19 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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