Whatever happened to those lazy days of summer, when your biggest concern was who to play with? When you left home in the morning and only returned for food and the bathroom (if then)? When games were made up and non-chaperoned? When the best ideas emerged because you were bored? When you came home at the end of the day dirty, sweaty, tired and happy?
When did summer become so scheduled? I remember our first summer in our “new” house. Our son was three, and we were finally in a neighborhood filled with kids. I had such high hopes of summer days filled with picnics, impromptu wiffle balls games and water gun fights. I pictured my son running through the sprinkler with all those children I saw at the bus stop every winter morning, chasing down the ice cream man as evening approached.
Imagine my surprise when summer came, and all I saw were cars driving past with babysitters at the wheel. Where were all the children? I soon learned the answer. Camps!
Soccer, baseball, knitting, theater, fashion design, tumbling, magic, photography, video games – you name it and there is a camp for it. And I soon found myself caught up in the carpool lines: mornings in the classroom, afternoons at the pool and evenings on the field.
I know of one mother who describes her role in the summertime as Julie from the Loveboat – cruise director extraordinaire, arranging play dates, coordinating schedules and dreaming up activities that would make Martha Stewart and her cohorts look like amateurs.
I had the opportunity to spend the past two weeks at the shore. The girls slept in until 9:00 or so, while I woke up at 7:00 and took my walk. They ate breakfast in front of the television while I read on the front porch. We ran an errand or did a project around the house, then had lunch at noon. We spent the afternoon on the beach, reading, collecting shells, jumping waves and dozing in the sun. We wandered home around 4:00, showering and cleaning up before dinner. Evenings were spent walking on the boardwalk or riding bikes to see the sunset. The biggest argument was what to have for dinner.
We were calm, content and relaxed, enjoying the surf, sun, sand and our anonymity.
Then we came home.
And we were off! Swim team for this one, volleyball camp for that one. He needs new shorts; she needs poster board. “Take me to the mall.” “Drive me to my friend’s house.” I spend more time in my car then I do at my house.
I can’t complain too loudly. After all, I am the one who signed them up for these camps and teams. I bought into the theory that bored children are the root of all evil. And unfortunately, so have friends and neighbors.
“Go call a friend” doesn’t work as a distraction when most friends are at camp. It’s hard to have a wiffle ball game with one.
And so our crazy days of summer continue. I am counting down the days until we return to the shore and our unscheduled days and relaxing nights. Until then, you can find me in my car.