This is a submission in our monthly contest. October’s theme is Determination. Enter your own here!

After a fraught winter of flirting with freelance writing (chagrin implied), I’d made some gains. They were almost negligible, and some of the platforms dubious, yet I got published elsewhere. Still mostly for free (more chagrin) but on bigger platforms for a few more likes, shares, and an occasional pocket change paycheck. (No large advance is forthcoming.)

Then school was out, summer happened, and I reacquainted myself with TV, some video games, full-time parenting, and the clouds.

Well, I’m a parent all the time but her first year of school was an amazing freedom for me.

It’s not that summer strips parents of all their free time. The hours between 9:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. were usually open. If I were a real go-getter, I’d have gotten up at the butt crack to “scribble” on the keys then burn the midnight oil after a few beers, but I didn’t.

Not all was procrastination, though. A lot went on this summer, and it started out fantastically with a two-week break from parenting. The g-rents whisked the kid away, leaving my wife and I childless. It was glorious. We were a couple of young adults without a child again. Other parents were jealous.

After that two-week stint without the kid, things changed. We traveled a lot, there was a death in the family, and we went from practically having a live-in babysitter (a niece) to being full-time parents again.

The adult time was over and my hobby sort of dropped off.

It dropped off because writing isn’t a sprint but a distance game, and it requires more than 20 to 30 minutes of attention at a time. I tried to write with her around but that required a lot of TV (something us modern parents aren’t supposed to let our kids overindulge in), and she had questions and concerns every two minutes.

Can’t get mad, though. When your preschooler asks you to come into the bathroom to smell her fart, your heart just swells. These are the precious moments parents carry with them to their graves.

I’ve also found that picking up where you left off only works with pieces that are nearly done. That being said, it’s easier to pick up a book and easier still to watch Netflix, Amazon, Hulu – whatever.

The easiest thing to do, however, is watch clouds.

Being committed to a word file takes focus, time, and, I guess, some will power.

Not making excuses helps, too, but no one else is going to get that paladin to level 99 other than you, bro.

That’s game talk and while procrastination and gaming go hand in hand, they should never be used in the same sentence around a gamer. They’re liable to set you on fire with a level four flame spell.

Instead, I set the writing aside and checked out critically acclaimed works of nonfiction, making sure I brought them with me so people would notice. I didn’t read them, just skimmed reviews in hifalutin magazines in case someone asked me about them. It’s what we procrastinators call “doing adequate homework”.

I also watched a lot of YouTube videos on lions, landslides, volcanoes (just one Saturday night), even Saturday Night Live, tsunamis again (never gets old), and an inordinate amount of Star Wars fan theory videos.

Did you know that not all Jedi are prudes? I didn’t think so.

The kid and I also did our fair share of floating around the pool. Well, I floated and she attempted the world record at most consecutive drowning attempts.

However, before I lay too much blame on parenting and chronic procrastination, let me reiterate the real culprit: summer break. I absolve myself of all responsibility and lay most of the blame, if not all, on the summer holiday. It’s just too long. Really, kids should be in school more. Perhaps all day so that the only time you see them is when they wake up and after dinner.

A parent’s daily peace of mind is worth a little state indoctrination, am I right?

To be blunt, summer break ruins a this peace-o-mind, pure and simple. Yes, it was great having almost three months off from school as kid, but I’m not a kid anymore and their time off offends me.

Of course, we could’ve mitigated all this with summer camps (I will become a convert next year) and a regular schedule. But to have regularity in you and your child’s schedule, you must plan for it. Since I’m neither a planner nor someone who remotely understand plans, this was not the case for me.

That’s why we’re here now, commiserating summer break together and relieved it’s over.

You hear that kiddo? Sounds like first bell. Time for dad to level up.