Summer is finally here! Your kids are free from the structure of school. No more helping them with homework, no more shuttling the crew from baseball practice, to spring football practice, and attending all the year-end school activities like:
- Volunteering to help with your elementary school aged child’s field trips.
- Tearing the house apart looking for that biology book you will pay for if not turned in by the last day of school.
- Attending baccalaureate and graduation services.
- Planning your child’s graduation party and attending all his/her friend’s graduation parties.
- Cleaning up after the graduation party.
Whew….now you can put on that suntan lotion, grab that novel you’ve been dying to read for the past nine months and relax by the kid’s pool with a cold ice tea.
But after a week or two you realize:
- Your older kids need a summer job.
- The younger ones are bored already.
- There are two more months with teenagers collecting dust on your hammock by the pool with cell phones glued to their ears.
- The younger ones expect you to be their slaves.
So much for that novel. Before you spike that iced tea, wish you had remembered to fill out that registration form for Camp Faraway and tell them to go find something to do for the umpteenth time, let me tell you a cautionary tale or two from my childhood summer vacations.
My friend and I rode our bicycles to his cousin’s house one summer day. We quickly ran out of things to do. We thought it might be fun to climb over a barb wired fence, gather some rocks and chuck them at their muscle-bound, bull in the center of this huge field.
Of course safety was our #1 objective (wink-wink), so we didn’t get too close. My friends first few throws fell far short of the target. They encouraged me to get just a little closer so I did. The rock I heaved hit the once docile animal square in the head. The enraged beast charged.
Being closest to the fence, the cousin was first to quickly climbed over. My best friend was ten yards in front of me and dove headfirst under the prickly wire. The earth shook from the approaching bull when I dove under the barb wired fence. As I stood to face the snorting bull, I noticed blood pouring out of two, four-inch long tears in my blue jeans. I still carry those scars as a reminder of my stupidity.
Another lazy summer day, while on a date with Karen at my parent’s house, (she was fourteen and I was fifteen at the time) my cousin’s family came to visit from Seattle. Not long after the introductions, things got a little awkward. That is until my cousins snuck their new bow and arrows out of their car.
We decided just looking at them was too lame. No, we had to try them out. Someone thought it would be a hoot for all of us to stand close to the shooter and scramble like mad, with our hands covering our heads while screaming like lunatics, as an arrow was shot straight up and disappeared into the sky. Fortunately know one became a human shish kabob and we all lived another day.
I tell these two stories to remind you that not all childhood activities, when left up to the imaginations of kids, are safe. We live in a different world than the one I grew up in during the ’60s & early ’70s. At the age of eleven I was riding my three-speed all over a six to seven mile radius without supervision. Most of my friends did the same. Many of the parents I know keep their children on a much shorter leash now.
In my next post, I’ll share some ideas on how to build a legacy of stress free summer fun with your kids while still being able to read that novel in peace.
Please share some of your favorite ideas for enjoying the summer months with your kids or grandkids.
Also….please share about some of the misadventures and close calls you had while passing the time away during your childhood summer vacations.