One of the biggest challenges that I have had to face as a single parent (especially when I was doing the single Mom thing with Michael) has always been what to do when school is out, the kids were home all day, and I still had to go to work. As much as teachers and students like to be out for the entire summer, it's a single parent's nightmare as just the logisitics of the whole thing can be mind-numbing.
Fuil-time childcare would wipe out whatever paycheck I might have brought home and YMCA day camp wasn't exactly any cheaper though it kept Mike busy all day. I couldn't exacly tie him up and leave him locked in the car while I earned a living and darned if the authorities didn't frown upon parents leaving their underage kids home alone for hours on end. I tell ya, I truly dreaded and hated the months between June and August. I guess that's why one could always find me dancing in the streets when the school buses resumed their rounds and my offspring was once again hauled off to the halls of higher education. Thank the State for compulsory education!!
As much as I hate to rush the growing-up process, it's a major relief when a child can take care of him or herself. In Amanda's case I know that if I leave her home by herself all day while I'm at work that chances are good she isn't going to burn down the house, invite in some suspicious guy who might have been lurking around outside and used the ploy of needing a drink of water to get in the house, or had everyone over for a party (though I'm sure that will become more of a worry as she gets older!). I must admit that it also helps that my next door neighbor and landlord is a Norwich cop whose wife is a New London school teacher that has the whole summer off. We have a pretty safe little neighborhood and that gives me peace of mind while I'm off at work a mere mile away.
I've already established the fact that Amanda doesn't exactly spend the day cleaning the house or picking up after herself so what does she do all day? Mostly she draws. It's a hobby that keeps her busy and puts a constant drain on my finances to keep her supplied with pencils, erasers, drawing pens, paper, etc. Of course what she really wants is an expensive drawing program like Corel, Adobe Photoshop CS, or Paint Shop Pro for the computer but I'm afraid that unless the Computer Software Fairy magically leaves it on our doorstep that she won't be getting it. Single parent-one income families just don't have the budget for those kind of luxuries - at least not this single parent-one income family!
Barring that, Amanda scans her hand-drawn pictures into the computer and then uses an old version of Adobe Photoshop 5.0 that Mike's ex-girlfriend left downloaded on the computer to fine tune them. This keeps her occupied for hours on end and takes up most of her day; I doubt she really even notices that I'm at work most of the time except that she can't constantly yell downstairs "hey, Mom, come look at this and tell me what you think!".
Though she tends to draw in just one style - a form of Japanese anime - she's actually pretty good and has some decent stuff posted on her page which you can look at here on deviantArt, which is more or less an on-line portfolio that gives artists and wanna-be artists a place to display their work and get feedback and critiques. Amanda feels it's a good tool for her to see how she's doing and what others think and I see no harm in it (her father, of course, disagrees yet again with me but like I said - he's not here, he pays no child support, he gets no say!).
As one of her electives at NFA this year Amanda is taking Introduction to Art and I am really hoping the class gives her more of an appreciation for all kinds of art rather than just animation. It also helps that our friend Paula is an artist and Baby Liz, one of the schedulers I work with at American, is an amazing artist unto herself. They've both given Amanda some great advice and tips and she loves their input.
So maybe she'll never be a Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, or Matt Groening but you never know - someday I might be able to say I knew her when! And then she can support me in the style to which I would like to be accustomed with all of her royalties!