Friday, June 9, 2006

Sit Back And Unwind

Remember the blissful days of yore when summer break meant staying up late, long days spent riding bikes or swimming at the Y, sleeping over at a friend's house nearly every night of the week and, of course, sleeping in every morning? Lay back and relax, 'cause this is summertime...

In 2006, summer break looks a little different from my "parent" perspective. The kids are thinking: "YEAH! It's SUMMER! We don't have to do NOTHIN'!" and I'm flipping through the rec center guide looking for activities to fill up the endless days of summer. So far, we have piano, ballet, chorus, swimming, soccer and fencing on tap for summer. Sure, we'll still go to the pool and on family bike rides. And, of course we'll entertain our share of friends for overnights and playdates (Lizzie's off on one right now), but there is no way I'm going to be cooped up with my children 24/7. Every five minutes it'll be "what can I do now?" or "there's nothing to play with!"

That last one really throws me for a loop because they have more toys than Target. And, since when do kids need a toy to have fun? No, I didn't walk barefoot in the snow to school or uphill both ways to get there, but I was damn good at using my imagination. I tell my children to use their imagination and they look at me like I have three eyes. If it doesn't take batteries, they're not playing with it. Where did I go wrong?! We did Montessori school for goodness sakes! These kids should be able to whittle their own toys for the price we paid. Instead, they're often whiny and dependent. Sheesh! Why can't they play outside for hours on end with dirt and sticks without complaining about the heat and the bugs?'s called nature. Deal with it. Am I asking too much here? I don't think so.

I think children are so used to being told what to do and when to do it that they just can't think for themselves anymore. Sure, we have a gazillion activities scheduled this summer but downtime is abundant. Not every moment needs to be a firecracker one. Nor should it be. I'm hoping that this summer my children will rediscover the simple pleasure of doing nothing. Childhood is fleeting but it shouldn't be jam packed or stressful. Hopefully, when they're busy adults, they will appreciate me for just letting them chill as kids.

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