Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Summers I Remember

Okay, I didn't do a great job on the scanning of this particular photograph, but this is me on the trip I took to Colorado to visit a friend, the summer after high school graduation.  When I found this picture the other day (while trying to organize photographs, haha), I thought wow.  Summers have really changed.

My kids will be out of school for the summer tomorrow at noon and I admit to a little bit of queasiness at the thought of them being home all summer.  When I was growing up (God, how old am I, anyway?), there was no cable television (and certainly no television in my bedroom), internet, cell phones, video games, texting, instant messaging, computers, or Facebook.  We spent our summers pretty much either reading a book or outside actually playing games like tag and hide and seek, riding our bikes, and going to the pool.  In fact, I rode my bike to the pool quite often when I was a teenager.  I don't remember that our pool had a rule that you had to be a certain age to get in, although I'm sure this was the case.  But surely it wasn't the 16 years of age that our little dinky neighborhood pool here requires.  I spent a lot of time during the summer laying out at the pool, working on my tan (which we now know is not a good idea - always use sunscreen!).  I also can remember some evenings of chasing fireflies in the soft, warm darkness and putting them into jars with holes in the lids, my parents chatting quietly with neighbors on the back porch.

I had a "best" friend who lived behind us right after we moved to Virginia and we spent most of our summers together, spending the night at each others' houses and playing numerous hands of canasta.  It's been so long since I played, I doubt I remember the rules.  I remember the day her dog disappeared, walking around the neighborhood, bare feet burning on the asphalt of the street, trying to find him.  That dog did everything with us and it was with great sorrow that we finally admitted that we were not going to be able to find him.

There wasn't nearly the problem with obesity back in my day, because kids were just more active.  Now, I am looking at a summer of fighting with my own children to actually go do something.  Last summer, I was working and they spent the entire summer sitting in front of their individual television sets in their rooms, playing video games and watching cable or in front of the computer.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that my being at home is not going to really change that this year.  It's a struggle, especially with my older two, to just get them out of their rooms, or even to open their doors, for that matter.

There can be quite the argument made for not making a lot of the choices I have made as a parent.  Unfortunately, some of the choices I made were due to an inability to cope with parenting back before my mental illness was diagnosed and treated, but I like to think that because I made those choices, I still have my life and my children.  Sometimes you sacrifice what might be the best thing for what is the thing that saves your sanity.  That doesn't make it right, but it makes it somewhat explainable.

There are, I am sure, many great options for camps somewhere in the area, but I have not been able to find them.  Nothing at the Parks and Rec center seems to be a good fit for my kids.  The best I can offer this year is a daily trip to our pitiful little 30' X 50' neighborhood pool (hopefully after the worst heat of the day when no one is there), maybe a few trips to the movies, and some board games and card playing.  I know the last Harry Potter movie is coming out in July and my youngest, at the very least, will want to see it, being a Harry Potter fanatic.  I've never been, but we have an Alamo Cinema and Drafthouse and I really want to check out its air conditioned darkness and no texting policy while taking in a movie this summer.  If I could find a girlfriend to go with me for a chick flick, so much the better.  But I digress...I was talking about the kids and how summers have changed.

I still see kids in the neighborhood outside down the street on a regular basis.  I think their moms must have done something very different than I did in raising children.  They skate and play hockey in the cul de sac.  I can at least get Joey out on his bike with the kids across the street in the evenings, so I know there will be some resource there for regular outings.  But what he is looking forward to the most is playing his video games.  He told me so yesterday.  I take full responsibility for this and, since he made the honor roll every quarter, isn't that a just reward to be able to play his video games?  I've even heard that they are good for kids with autism because they help with coordination and mental stimulation.  (Am I rationalizing here?)

I have things I want to do this summer myself.  And I know having the kids home is going to sometimes interfere with my desire to work on my own projects.  I am dedicated to getting the clutter cleaned out of my house, to getting the canvas ribbons and butterfly magnets up and selling for cancer research, and I have a book that I am trying to write.  And there is the blog, which I so enjoy writing on a daily basis.  How much is having the kids home going to change my plans?

Not to mention my parents' move, because I would like to spend as much time out at their current house as possible before they take off for the sunny, warm south this August.  I have one weekend on the calendar for sure to go and help Mom sort through things and get things out of the house as she downsizes.  There is also the Gettysburg car meet in August with Justin.  These two trips are the sum total of our vacations this summer, which is what we planned because we were paying off debt and have Ben's tuition coming due again in August.  Maybe we can get to the beach next year?

What are you doing with your kids this summer?  If you have to work, how do you handle the childcare or camp arrangements?  I'm always curious as to how other moms look at the summer with the kids home.  My mom finally confessed to me that she used to dread summer and having us at home all the time.  I am kind of used to always having kids here, since Ben is now in college and has set his schedule completely opposite of the younger two.  He is more of a night person and likes to sleep during the day, so having the house to myself is never really an option anyway.  At least he's quiet and polite and respectful.  So I know I did something  right.  In fact, I hear it all the time, how nice and respectful my kids are from various teachers and other adults.  So, while I was dealing with the mental illness, I apparently instilled something in my children.  You always wonder if other parents think your kids are brats behind your back.  But I have gotten genuine comments that were unsolicited about how nice my kids are to have around. 

When they come out of their rooms, that is.



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