My mother did not live her life to entertain me or to indulge my sister's every whim (well, maybe that part isn't true, right, Cassie?). She did not constantly dote upon us. She did not seek out ways to keep us busy, motivated, engaged in learning, active, or entertained whenever we had a moment to be at home. Somehow, even though I did not play three summer sports, attend 5 summer camps, go to VBS at 3 different churches, take classes on 17 topics, and engage in 472 learning activities each and every summer, I have amazing memories of summer.
So what in the world did we do all summer if our mother didn't create posters filled with lengthy lists of projects to complete, places to go, treats to eat, crafts to create, and otherwise micro-manage every day of our lives?
We lived. We played. Ran. Explored. Rode. Fished. Swam in the river. Caught frogs and chased Canadian geese. Flew kites. Fed chickens. Played house. Slept late. Played board games and card games with each other and Grandma and Grandpa. In fact, we spent a whole week with our grandparents every summer. Sometimes two. And Grandma? She didn't plan every moment when we were there either. We spent those summer weeks at Grandma's house watching too much television, renting too many movies, staying up too late, eating too much junk food, climbing that big pine tree that was supposedly off-limits, building forts in the bushes beside the shed, and swimming, swimming, swimming! We were happy to just be with our grandparents no matter what we were doing.
And we are okay. I'd like to think that we are more than okay. We are well-rounded adults, mothering our own flocks without all the bells and whistles of the modern parenting regime. We even have pretty positive academic records to support the fact that not every moment needs to be planned as a learning experience in order for our children to become brilliant. No comments on my lack of brilliance, please. So maybe at least my sister is brilliant.
Didn't most of you spend your summers like this too? Didn't you have time to play and explore freely without having to be rushed to the next activity? I don't ever remember thinking, "Gee, I wish Mom planned more for me to do," or "Why can't we spend more time going places?" And never, ever, EVER did either of us think, "Why isn't Mom planning more entertainment for us?"
I am grateful for those carefree days when catching frogs was the most important thing on my agenda. I don't buy into this idea of scheduling every moment of our summer, and I don't understand those big posters filled with lists of things to do to keep summer interesting. If that works for you or you feel like you need that to keep yourself accountable, then so be it. It looks like pressure to me, for both the kids and for me.
Summer is already bursting with interesting opportunities. Summer is naturally fun. My kids never seem to be bugged by the opportunity to turn on the sprinkler and throw water on each other and the neighbors. Sure, they love things like vacation Bible school and swimming lessons as much as the next kid, but for me to have to entertain them all summer? That's not going to happen. Ever. And I just don't get why people buy into that. Doesn't it stress you out just a little?
I know this is me fighting against the norm as usual. Counter-culture. It's where I live. My kids played for the entire month of June. Not once did they need my help deciding what to play or how to keep themselves entertained. They do not view me as their go-to girl for all things entertainment, nor do they rely on screen time or electronic devices.
Some of you are thinking to yourselves, "Wow! This woman needs to get her kids to the next daycamp/VBS/sleepover camp. She doesn't know what she's missing!"
But I do. My kids attended a daycamp. I missed them. They went to VBS, and I was there with them, and it was a blast. For one week.
What I love about summer? Freedom to be at ease. I have time to play with them, and they want to be with me. They ask me to play games, and I say yes. They listen as I read to them. We bake and cook together. We do it all spontaneously because that's the way we roll, and that will create awesome moments for them to remember.
Now don't think we don't have any structure around here. Structure...I'll leave that for another post.