You and Me in the Summer Time

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I have become one of those people who says things like "time flies" and "I can't believe how big you've grown" without a trace of irony. No joke time passes and can I REALLY not believe that a child has grown, it does tend to happen every now and again, no...?

And yet: My lord, time flies. Is it really June? I just got the "reminder" in D's lunchbox that the end of his "school year" is this Friday. A mild panic started to set in. What am I going to do with D. allll summer? I have gotten very accustomed to the managed chaos of my two youngest ones at home while D is at preschool 4 days a week. Come next Monday, there will be another set of needs to address everyday--and this set has a louder voice!

My first thought was to consult my BFF google on things like "activities for toddlers in Berkeley" and "summer classes for kids." And there is an array of options. Gymnastics, music camp, every sport under the sun, organic farming (this is Berkeley), swimming lessons, underwater basket weaving...endless possibilities.

But even as I was masterminding my chock-a-block summer activities for D., I could feel the tug in the back of my head, the voice from somewhere in my childhood, questioning this over-scheduling I was in the midst of planning.

I spent many summers catching frogs in the backyard of my house. My next door neighbor C. and I spent entire days making up fantasies in which, on any given day, the swamp that ran through both of our yards was a magical land of flying cars (we lived in Michigan--cars featured prominently in our fantasies), or a secret garden full of treasuers to unearth. Sure, there were swim classes here and there, family trips and whatnot. But the majority of the summers of my childhood could best be described as unstructured. And when I think back on them, I cannot conjure up beautiful enough words to describe how perfect they were.

Obviously I am running the risk of being simply nostalgic and sentimental. But can't summer just be summer? Can't our kids read their books all day, laze around outside, stop--for lack of a better phrase--and smell the roses, eucalyptus, organically grown produce? Maybe they will get bored sometimes. Forgive me but: so what??

Welcome to the "slow parenting movement." It is an idea whose time has come. To support it: Here are some recipes for bubbles. I can imagine long afternoons blowing bubbles into the faces of my three babies. That is enough activity for one summer day.
Gina F. said...

YES! (I was wondering if you were going to comment on Belkin's slow parenting article.)

Anonymous said...

And it never ends by the way. Even when you try to stop "over-programming" your children you have to give into the whims of your children's friends who are having multiple birthday parties, playdates and whatnot. Taking a step back is such a good idea.

Rupa Joshi, Seattle said...

I agree in concept. But the days are LONG when you don't have activities for a 3 year old. It's almost more for me than for him.

lyvia said...

I love this post from the article:

"My favorite “evolution in parenting” comparison comes from twenty-seven years of hands-on mothering for four kids. The kids have heard this story before, they still roll their eyes.

Lunch with the first child: a healthy sandwich and a slice of American cheese. She likes me to cut letters out of the cheese to make words, and she particularly likes to have her names spelled out on the high chair tray: “Deborah.” That’s a lot of artwork to extract from a four inch square of cheese, but this is my “training baby,” and I’m trying to foster creativity.

Lunch with the second child: a healthy sandwich and slice of American cheese. The words we play with now have only three letters–hot, tot, pot. I’m starting to get tired of this game.

Lunch with the third child: a healthy sandwich. He’s lucky if he gets a slice of cheese with lunch.

Lunch with the last child: a package of fries from the McDonald’s drive-through passed backwards over my shoulder as I’m driving to pick up or deliver one of the older kids. If he’s lucky, he’ll get orange drink with that.

And the funniest thing? The oldest is a lawyer, the youngest is going off to engineering school, and I’ve got an engineering student and an art student in between. Somehow they all managed to survive either being “overwatered” or “underwatered.”

— Mary"

Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more. what's wrong with being "bored" once in a while? bored kids learn to daydream.

Anonymous said...

maybe this is just me, or just us i should say because i am from the midwest too and the people i grew up with feel the exact same way. but my east coast west coast friends think its crazy to spend hours in the summer looking at dandelions and whatnot, probably because they didnt grow up with fields of dandelions?

Siobahan said...

Love the same passage Lyvia. Reminds me of the difference "pacifier rules" with the first, second and third child!

Anonymous said...

yes yes YES. activities for our kids aren't supposed to stress us out and doing all this stuff when they are 3 isn't gonna get them into harvard folks! now, when my little ones are old enough to tell ME what they are interested in? that is different!

Anonymous said...

okay i understand all of this but is it SO bad to want to expose our kids to lots of activities? this summer my daughter will be doing gymnastics, soccer and pottery and my son will be doing guitar, t-ball, and a 2 week cooking class. i'm putting it out there, judge if you will. do you really think that your kids, sitting home, daydreaming, whatnot, will be "better off" than the ones out there learning new things?

rita said...

Its not about learning new things. It's about hyper programming our kids in an aggro way. Long live the slow parenting movement!

Anonymous said...

underwater basket weaving !! yaooza !
this kid will need tons of therapy.

Yasmine said...

@above poster whose kids are in all the activities: i totally get you and i tend towards that end of the spectrum too. and i think you are right actually, there is nothign "bad" that can come from exposing your kids to new activities and hobbies and stuff. i think it's just a issue of priorities and selecting the right thigns. more often than not and i am guilty of this too moms just throw their kids in all sorts of things because we are supposed to. there is now joy in that i have found. selecting the right things, and selecting a few things instead of a million of them is much more enjoyable. i dont think anyboyd belives their kids sholdnt do any activities right?

Sonali said...

Hi! A friend forwarded me your blog last week and I have become addicted and this is the icing on the cake. Could not agree more. Thre is so so much to worry about as a mother. Why add whether tap classes are necessary for a toddler to the list. Thanks for that article, I didn't realize there is a label for the way I want to raise my kids!

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