The kids of Ridgewood, New Jersey got a night off when the town declared March 26th Ridgewood Family Night. But as 8th grader Claire Certo tells guest host Pippin Ross, it’s not so easy to just kick back and relax.
ROSS: You're listening to NPR's Living on Earth. The town of Ridgewood, New Jersey recently gave their kids a night off. Parents and organizers from the Ridgewood Counseling Service decided their kids' after-school schedules are so overbooked they had to pencil in some downtime. No easy task, it took seven months to finally designate March 26th as an official night off.
Joining me now is Claire Certo. She's an eighth grader at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood. Hi, Claire.
ROSS: So Claire, March 26th fell on a Tuesday. What would you normally do on a Tuesday night?
CERTO: Well, Tuesday afternoon I have rehearsal, usually. And that gets – I'll probably get home around 4:00, 4:30.
ROSS: Rehearsal for?
CERTO: The school play. The Music Man. And then, I baby-sit from 5:00 to 7:00. And I have CCD at 7:30 to 8:30. That's like Sunday School.
ROSS: What about homework?
CERTO: I always get it done. Because I can do it later, after 8:30. And I eat dinner in between babysitting and CCD. And I do work at school, too. So it's not that bad.
ROSS: Do you feel like you're too busy?
CERTO: Sometimes, especially on weekends. Like this spring, I'm playing lacrosse and soccer. So I've got soccer games on Sundays. And those are usually pretty long. And I've got lacrosse games on Saturday. And then there's homework I'd have to do.
ROSS: Whoa. You are wearing me out, girlfriend.
CERTO: I can handle it.
ROSS: So, what did you end up doing on your night off?
CERTO: Well, I relaxed for a little while. And we painted our Easter eggs. And we ordered pizza and just hung out.
ROSS: So you relaxed for a little while. What was that, five minutes?
CERTO: No. I watched TV, and I played on the computer.
ROSS: Not exactly social activities.
CERTO: No. Because at night, on school nights and everything, you can't do much. Because you can't stay out late.
ROSS: So that probably made it easier that you couldn't hang out with your friends.
CERTO: Yeah. That made it more family-prone, I guess.
ROSS: And the next day in school, did everybody talk about it, and say, "Oh, that was boring," or "That was great?"
CERTO: The teachers talked about it. But the kids didn't really. It wasn't a big deal.
ROSS: Now, did you learn anything from taking a night off?
CERTO: I did learn that homework is almost good because I was getting kind of bored.
ROSS: Wait a minute. What?
CERTO: Well homework, I hate homework. But I was getting kind of bored because I had really nothing to do.
ROSS: So you were bored having the night off?
CERTO: Yeah. I wouldn't think I would be. But it was fun.
ROSS: Sort of.
ROSS: Claire Certo is an eighth grader at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Claire, thanks for talking with me today. And good luck with all your activities, and try to relax.
CERTO: Thanks. I'll try.
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