Portland parents who are lucky or especially good at budgeting may be getting close to paying off the credit-card bills racked up over the holiday season, around now. The approach and arrival of Valentine’s Day signals a chance to lean back, take a breath, and enjoy a non-chaotic evening for just the two of you. But when Cupid has sharpened and fired his heart-shaped arrowheads, it also serves as a reminder of something else: for Portland Public Schools, the week of February 19 to 23 is winter break, and the kids will be home.

Ah, the memories of past weeks of the children’s vacations. The frying pans mysteriously burned unusable when you return home to the babysitter. A harrowing trip up to Kingfield, only to hear the littler voice say, “I left my ski boots home.” The paid-leave time at home that made it seem likely that a certain son and daughter could get a gig on reality TV with the uniquely absurd things they argue about (“I was being Aslan, and he said my mane had fleas!”). Yes, February vacation, the place where anything can happen, and often does. 

Take another breath. Don’t panic. Sign your brood up for the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine’s February Vacation Camp, to run from 9 a.m. to noon every day of the five-day week, for kids aged 5 to 8. The cost is $50 per day for one child, or $210 for the whole week.

Here’s what’s on the docket:

  • Monday: Space Day (Viewing the planetarium, low-gravity walking practice, alien role-playing, and a take-home project)
  • Tuesday: Summer Bubble Play Day (Imagining a bubble as big as yourself, bubble art and bubble games, stepping into a giant bubble, and making a unique wand)
  • Wednesday: Summer Art Day (Making messy art, learning about lobstering, taking inspiration from the Tide Pool to make a painted lobster buoy to take home)
  • Thursday: Theatre Day (A backstage tour of James and the Giant Peach, improv games, tongue twisters, and sitting to watch the production, popcorn included)
  • Friday: Science in the Sun Day (making UV color-changing necklaces, using light and heat to cook S’Mores, learning about the seasonal adaptations of animals, and attending a Spark’s Ark show)

We have no doubt that our readers are responsible, capable parents who can handle just about anything. But when it comes to maintaining your performance at work and your general equilibrium as a sane person, there’s nothing wrong with putting the kids in the hands of the pros for a bit. Vacation-week mornings will be taken care of, and all you’ll have to worry about is where to put the brand-new lobster buoy and bubble wand.

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