"Competitive about what, you may ask? Anything. Everything. If there is something that could possibly be measured quantitatively, they want to know who did it better. Not out of a sense of personal accomplishment, but as a form of bragging rights and lording power over the less proficient one."

Molly Cavanaugh's kids are thrilled about summer vacation.

"They have visions of all-day pajama parties spent in front of a rotating buffet of screens. They think morning cartoons will seamlessly segue into an afternoon movie matinee — all while they enjoy unfettered access to their tablet devices...So it came as little surprise to me — but a blindsiding event to my kids — when, on the first Monday of summer vacation, I posted the rules for the next 10 weeks on the kids’ bulletin board."

"Back in April, my son, Declan, came home from school asking if I had ever heard of a ship called the Titanic. I told him I had, that it was a famous story and if he wanted to know more we could find some books about it at the library. He brought it up so casually and his interest seemed tenuous at best that I didn’t think much of it at the time," wrote Molly Cavanaugh. "My how things have changed. Declan is completely captivated by the lore of that ocean liner’s disastrous maiden voyage."

"Unlike her brother, who stuck to mainly age-appropriate texts, Mara is insatiable in her effort to exercise her latest scholastic talent. She will literally read anything she can get her hands on — regardless of its origin. Billboards, written disclaimers at the bottom of commercial screens, my text messages and, most recently, she took a little pit stop in the medicine cabinet."

May is beautiful here in the Midwest. After a long winter its gentle warmth, budding flowers and lengthening daylight are all welcome gifts. However, the madhouse end-of-school-year itinerary that accompanies it is not.

"If you had asked me about our plans for Pi Day back on March 14, I was on it. We had pie. Groundhog’s Day back in February? It was all about Punxsutawney Phil, the prophesying ground rodent. But by the time May rolls around, I am so focused on that end-of-school-year finish line that something like Mother’s Day gets completely mentally ejected from the itinerary."

The family already has an animal on premises, but even I have to admit that saying he’s a “family” pet is a bit of a stretch. Even I can see he only mildly tolerates the house’s other inhabitants. This makes it completely understandable that the kids want a real live pet who won’t run away and hide every time they get within three feet of it.

Youth activities are a big business in America, according to the survey conducted by Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. It's a business that has parents shelling out hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars each year on all manner of supplemental endeavors for the little ones.

"So on that snowy Saturday night, my husband showed up on time at the bottom of the stairs with flowers in hand and wearing his best suit — with a tie that matched the color of Mara's dress. He told her how wonderful she looked and how lucky he was to have such a lovely date for the night."

Second grade science dioramas don't get built by second graders. They get built by parents. "I know it, my son is banking on it and I think it’s safe to say the teacher is expecting a little adult oversight," wrote Molly Cavanaugh.

Sleep Sheep, FurReal Friend Plays-With-Me Kitty, Twinkle Twinkle Little Scout, My Pal Violet, Zoomer Kitty and a Hatchimal are all toys that have taken up residence in this mom's home thanks to her daughter.

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