Summer, a time in a child’s life that seems wide open and fun, and the concept has remained the same for eons. Think back to your own childhood. When I reflect back on my 1960’s youth I am filled with memories of swim lessons, and pool visits, bike rides and freedom. Freedom from school, homework, early bedtimes and more. I grew up in the mid-west, and while it wasn’t as sedate and idyllic as Mayfield from Leave It to Beaver TV fame, it was fairly peaceful. It was a suburb of a major city, the houses were all similar tract homes, the neighbors were mostly the same, middle class, two parent households. The dad’s mostly went off to work and the mom’s in my neighborhood stayed home and raised the children. Our friends were the ones we could walk or bike to, and we rarely made calls to arrange play times, we just showed up and made what fun we could. My mom often made me come in during the hot afternoon hours to cool off, which I found mildly boring. After dinner we’d ride more bikes until dusk and then my best friend and I would sit on the curb outside my house until one or both of our parents would call us in to clean up and go to bed. It was a safe place to grow up and play.
My own children are enjoying their summer I believe. A and C, my daughters, are in high school, and while they are growing up they are still only 14 and unable to drive and be as independent as they would like. Their friends are spread farther and wider and their main sources of contact are cell phone, MySpace, and instant messaging. They plan beach days, movies, and times to just hang out. C has a boyfriend, so her social life is about him first, and other friends fall into place after that. I do more chamfering than my own mother ever dreamed of. They don’t go anywhere without their cell phones and we are in contact. A likes to take long runs, and she never leaves without it, as I worry and while we are in a safe, middle class, tract home neighborhood, it’s not quite the same as the era I grew up in.
My son, N, is 10, and his summer is about how many friends he can have over or go to. Again, most of this is done with me or another parent driving, picking up, arranging and so on. He isn’t allowed off our street on his bike alone, unless he has a destination and I am aware of it.
Some things are the same though. My kids are sleeping in, and staying up late. They are not thinking of school, or projects, and only think about reading when I remind them that we agreed to keep up a pattern during the break as well. My kids are relaxed and happy; we are eating summer fruits and veggies and grilling out more, and eating whenever we want, because the schedule is less rigid and more fun.
I hope when my children look back on their youth they will have happy memories of the years I was able to be home with them and the summers they were able to just hang out and have fun. I pray I am giving them memories they will cherish, just as I was given so many summertime memories of my own to love.