Once upon a time, there was summer in the 1990s. We got up, brushed our teeth (maybe), grabbed a Pop-Tart and headed out into the wild unknown–our neighborhood. The possibilities were endless. You could climb a tall tree, ride through mud puddles on your bike sporting your New Kids on the Block t-shirt, and befriend the only neighbor on the street who had a play fort in their backyard and use the swings as surfboards while the Beach Boys blared from the stereo.
Sunscreen and bug spray were optional, skinned knees and sweat bees were a reality, and bucket lists were unheard of. You got up, and you lived life, as fast as those little Keds would take you.
Your child does not need 5,000 things to do this summer. They do not even need 50. Or (gasp!) even five. The one thing your kids need this summer is a memory. Chances are, if you plan each summer day with precise execution or aim to cross each thing off of that “5 billion things to do this summer with your kids” list, your children are only going to remember a few things any way.
So focus on one. Or two. Create an atmosphere that allows them to explore, learn, and create. Children know how to enjoy summer, all on their own. Maybe it is carving your name into a tree next to the barn. Or staying up past 9pm to catch fireflies in Mason jars. Invite a few friends over, build a bonfire in the backyard and grill hot dogs with mechanically separated pig parts. Pop a few bowls of popcorn and have an indoor movie night when it rains.
But you don’t have to do it all.
One day, your children will be sitting around the table at Thanksgiving, rehashing kickball games that left in an argument, that time that a fireworks show went terribly wrong and your 80 something great grandmother sat calmly in her seat while a firework went ablaze under her lawn chair, or how you used to flatten pennies on the railroad tracks.
But all of those things did not happen in one summer. They are memories, created over time, when summer to-do lists were ignored and living life from dawn to dusk in cutoff denim shorts is what counted.
What summer memories do you have from childhood? What are you looking forward to this summer with your children?