Remember the song…..”School’s out for the summer….”? The joy we all felt as kids with the endless summer days stretching ahead of us? The days at the pool, or walking around the neighborhood with a friend. Walking down to the store for a soda pop and candy bar….walking past the cute boys house or girl, a few times too many. All of this done during the long, hot and hazy days of summer, and all before dinner – and all outside. I can’t recall ever spending time inside on those summer days- even if it rained- who cared if you got wet, we didn’t melt.
I read an article recently about this very thing:
My children love to be outside exploring and getting dirty. They love to go to new and different places. But I work with some children that do NOT play outside. They never get to explore nature, or even their own neighborhood. This saddens me. I hear parents talk about which camps they have signed their children up for this summer, and how many. All because they feel the need to schedule their children’s summer days.
When did we start worrying so much about our children and their unschooled summer days? When did it become so important to fill their days with schedules and activities that they find it impossible to entertain themselves – without the assistance of technology? I love it when my children are outside on a warm evening playing Manhunt or flashlight tag or capture the flag. I love it when they come in dirty from head to toe, because I remember all the evenings I came in from being outside all day and collapsed from utter exhaustion, and slept deeply and soundly and completely. The television was never turned on, the sofa rarely sat upon. I didn’t come home in the summer except for lunch, when and if I was hungry and when the dinner bell rang- literally. My parent’s had an antique school bell mounted in the backyard and when it was dinner time they rang the bell. It was meant for us, but the whole neighborhood heard it and knew it was time to head home when Mom E. rang the bell.
Unfortunately, times have changed. The world is a different place. And as much as I would like my children to experience the same care free summers that I did, I know that that is not a real possibility. Yes they can drink from the hose, build forts, get dirty, play tag, run around the neighborhood but they will be calling to check in, and they will let me know where they are going and when they get there safe. Yes, I am that mother. Would I like to be the mother that my mom got to be? Yes, beyond a doubt. But as with every generation, things change and we have to adjust to it. So I am being my mom as much as I can be.
So what am I trying to say? Each parent needs to do for their children what they feel is the best. For me? I want my children to experience life. To be able to look back at their childhood and have had one. My memories are full of running or riding up and down Brighton Drive. To me it was idealic. To me it was childhood heaven. I didn’t have a gang of friends but when the sun went down and we wanted to play Capture the Flag or Kick the Can we could go around to the neighborhood kids and have 20 or so kids willing to play. That is what I would like for my children. To be able to play. For as long as possible. To have a childhood. They grow up so fast, so let them play.