Please, Don't Spoil Summer Vacation
Sometimes the seasons come upon us shockingly quick. It's not just the weather and fashions. Our moods and ideas about what constitutes good living shift with the season as well.
This is a good thing. We all need a good shake-up now and then. Besides, we are human animals - syncing with the natural world is only natural.
But sometimes we find ourselves scrambling to accommodate the seasonal hype around us. We think we need to create an entirely new, seasonally appropriate routine for our children.
The Summertime Blues
As I write this, summer camp registration is at full tilt. Anxiety, too. Hearts plummet at the thought that we may have missed a grand opportunity for our little ones because we were too slow to register. (Naughty parent.)
And hot damn, those classes can be expensive! We find ourselves in a debate about what's the most worthy investment for our families and how much we can afford.
Five half days of "art camp" + several hundred dollars + a preschooler who does enjoy painting but truthfully loves playgrounds more = money well spent?
But if we don't sign them up for all this enrichment, aren't we depriving them of The Essential Summertime Experiences of Their Generation? Aren't we RUINING them?
And besides, what else are we going to do with the kids? People have to work, you know?
So what's a parent to do?
I know that many of you are filling up your summer bucket lists, contemplating vacations, and looking at your calendars thinking about how bored your kids will be unless you figure out how to fill the weeks ahead.
Out of curiosity, I asked some of my friends for their favorite summertime memories. Take a look at what they said.
"Summers in the country... North Carolina at grandma's. Running down red clay roads. Eating berries off the vine and apples off the tree."
"Outside at the pool all day. At camp hiking and rock-climbing. Reading all day in the cool basement. Ice cream and frozen candy bars. Sailing."
"Pool from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. Only stopping for adult lap swim."
"Swimming in the dark at night and eating my mom's homemade ice pops after hours of swimming in our pool. And pretending to be Whitney Houston while singing along with 'I believe the children are the future' on our record player."
Is it just me or are you noticing a theme here? I can see these children running around barefoot, fingers sticky and dark with berry juice.
I see them dive bombing into the pool from the highest diving board over and over screaming with anticipation as the dopamine floods their brains and the water cushions the fall. I see their frozen treats dripping onto hot sidewalks.
I see myself as a little girl melting play dough in the hot sun on my backyard slide. Warm thunderstorms, sitting out on the porch with my mama, swinging back and forth and cuddling.
Making up symphonies inside my head while laying under a Texas-sized ceiling fan in a house without air conditioning. That enormous geode my brother and I found in our yard and lugged up onto the porch only to shatter the thing into a million glorious crystals.
The Simple Things
If you ask your children this question twenty years from now what they cherished most about their summers, I'm hedging a bet that it will be something slow, long, lazy, and amazingly simple that you'd never think to put in your summer bucket list.
You can make this happen for them. Just try a little less hard to schedule everything, ok?