Have Our Kids Lost Summer ? It ain't Like it Yoostaa Be.

Just imagine, kids gathering by the local swimming hole.  It's 1963, 90 some odd degrees, and kids were told by their parents, "Come back at supper time."

Until then, kids were left to make up their own play.  And this is how they did it.

Jumping, splashing, fishing.

When I was growing up in the 80's there was some shred of those times still left.  Except for the TV factor.  I mean, TV was my life as a tween and teenager.

But as a youngster, me and my sister were encouraged to go off with the neighborhood kids, and find our own fun.  Sometimes it was walking a trail to find a creek, or sometimes it was ruined building - that we'd pretend was our fortress.  Or sometimes, it was as simple as lying down on the grass, looking up at the clouds - and calling out what each cloud looked like.  A rabbit, a bear - a unicorn!

Other days, it was caterpillar collecting.

I have a very vivid memory of running through a summer rain at my grandmother's house, with all of my cousins, plucking dandelions out of the grass and making flower crowns.

So it's no surprise that the nostalgia is what draws me to Upstate New York every year.  Annnnddd, it's just too fucking hot in the South.

But when you become a parent in millennium, you see that "finding your own fun" doesn't really work.

I mean with Band Camp, Art Camp, Religious Camp, Dance Camp, Wizards and Warrior Camp, Young (very young) Business Camp (I shit you not), Sleep Away/Traditional Camp, etc.

And i-pads, i-touches, tv, texting, sexting, g-chatting, tweeting and insta-gramming.....

How can you compete with modern life? Modern summer?  Modern technology?

You immediately, feel like, oh my fucking GAAWWDDD, I forgot to sign up my kid for this shit -and now they're going to be utterly bored, and drive me fucking nuts.
Pleeaassee get me on the waiting list.  I know I didn't sign up by the deadline, but I just realized that my kids are going to go crazy without structured activities every day.


Instead of just fucking playing - whatever that means in 2014, summer is now about how much your kid can be doing.  How many activities they can be involved in.  How many camps they can attend.  How many hours they'll be busy.

Excuse me if I sound like I'm 80 years old.  Lamenting of times passed - but I will dammit.  Because attention is owed to the fact that, we parents, are saying SAYANORA to summer.

Have we, as a society, completely lost summer?

I know everyone is super engaged in the all consuming internet.  But, I swear, I fear we've lost summer.

By summer, I mean free time, free play, FFREEEDDOOMMMMM.  Freedom filled with running, jumping, swimming and fucking up shit.

Lemme tell ya folks - I can't let go of summer.  Because I just had theeee most outstanding summer of my whole entire life this summer.  I decided that I wasn't going to give in to all the bullshit camps and classes for my kids - that are entirely over-priced anyway.  I was going to pave a new way.  The old school way - get back to my roots.

Now, I understand I am speaking from the standpoint of someone that does NOT have a 9 to 5 job.  I have to put that out there.  I have an extremely flexible professional life.

Which is why I took full advantage of it this summer.

The first half of the summer was filled with the typical summer camp activities - swim camp, gymnastics camp, art classes, etc.  Pretty structured.  But nothing over the top.

The second half is where we, as a family unit, truly and wholly reconnected through exploration and recreation.

I roadtripped it up to Upstate New York, and stayed with my family.  I stopped twice along the way - once to see my in-laws - the other time in po-dunk Virginia because I was traveling by myself with two kids - and I was fucking exhausted.

When we got to New York - there was a bit of planning.  I don't live in that much of a clusterfuck, rainbows and unicorns kinda life.

We planned excursions - camping, beach days, mini trips to nearby cities and Niagra Falls, etc.  And we had a great time during those "planned" fun days.  We were totally able to connect - and for the first time ever in my parent life -I felt, completely and utterly engaged.  And WANTED to be engaged.  Sharing great things - like picking sea shells, rocks, going for rides on my dad's jet ski, going on an impromptu zoo trip, and sharing the awe that is Niagra Falls.

Other "unplanned" days - consisted of days at nearby parks, picnics, chalk-drawing seshes on the driveway, pools, neighborhood walks - and skinny dips in the kiddie pool - located conveniently in my mother's back yard.  I'm talking 2 feet of water maybe.....with naked babies running in the yard.  That stupid pool made them happy for like 2 hours.

Just beeeeiiinggg with my kids.  Being in the moment.  Sadly, for the first time in a long time.  I mean, don't get me wrong - there are 5 minutes here, maybe 30 minutes to an hour there throughout the school year where we, as a family, connect.  But it's not consistent.  And I feel too often, I'm always saying to my kids, "Not now, mommy's busy."

Making phone calls.
Folding laundry.
Cooking dinner.
Paying bills.
Cleaning the house.
Grocery shopping.


And I always feel guilty.

I didn't feel one ounce of guilt this summer.  My kids had the most well-rounded summer - full of structured play, exploration, discovery and just plain 'ol fun.

I hope we never lose summer.  I hope we never lose sight of summer.  Summer is a time for recreation and connection.  Yes, not everyone is lucky enough to have as much recreation during the summer.  But taking time out for it - is a must.  We, as an i-attached society - still need to give our kids that non-camped, un-fussy, slightly unscheduled summer.

Free play is more valuable then you think.  Just because your kid isn't solving math problems and reading 10 novels- and learning leadership skills at business camp - doesn't mean he or she is not learning. They're nuturing a fundamental part of their brains and lives.  Just being.  In the moment - connecting with loved ones and nature.

"...And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday," - John Milton

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