It is finally summer, now what?
By Timothy Linscott
Ah, summer, when children
are free to roam, play, explore, swim and just be kids. Each day the heart strings pull a little tighter as they realize school will start soon.
Ah, summer, when parents rue the day that final bell rang and begin marking down the calendar with an air of hope building with each mark until August.
I never thought I would say those words, but as a parent of three children, it has happened and I see what my parents went through. We bought groceries over the weekend and within two days were already out.
‘I’m bored,’ is something I hear from time to time from my children and it amazes me that they love to get out and play, but always say there is nothing to do outside (or inside for that matter).
I never had that problem. I’d play outside with my friends all day, every day. We’d ride bikes, nowhere in particular, just riding around town. We’d go down to the river to play in the mud, explore the banks and, on a good day, climb through the sewer outlet to hunt rats.
After my mother reads this I will get a phone call, but, hey, I’m old enough to admit it now, that is why my clothes smelled like the sewer as a kid. It wasn’t the dog.
Our local pool would open at 1 p.m. There were two public pools and a YMCA where I grew up, so we’d ride our bikes to whichever one hadn’t thrown us out to enjoy a day of running with wet feet on cement and diving for pennies.
Back in the day I had a permanent red Kool-Aid moustache, wrinkled fingers from swimming all day, wore my bathing suit under my clothes (you never know when you’ll come across a pool), was about eight shades darker than usual from a tan and from the end of June to the middle of July smelled like gun powder from shooting fireworks. Middle of July? Yeah, our cops were a bit relaxed in my neighborhood.
I can’t remember a single memory as a kid or teen in summer involving a cell phone or some other electronic device. One, they didn’t exist yet and two, we’d prefer being outdoors playing.
My friend Adam, Chewy and myself would play basketball for three or four hours straight in the summer. We had an old net we used as a trophy. It was our neighborhood trophy and I was proud to win it a few times.
The kids in the neighborhood built a bike course with hills, curves and jumps right on the edge of a steep river bank. We would have races, contests to see who could jump the furthest, who could break a bone first...all kinds of fun.
My point to all of this is that in summer there are 1,000 things for kids to do outdoors.
My other point is, now as a parent knowing the 1,000 things to do outdoors, you worry about them breaking bones, hunting rats in the sewer (figuratively and literally), getting into trouble and eating everything in the house.
I took my middle daughter, Olivia, to her friend Celeste’s house the other day. Dropping her off her sister said, ‘What specific time are you picking her up?’
‘Today,’ was my response. The girls had Barbies, friendship bracelets and, yes, snacks, already out and playing by the time I made it up to the sidewalk to drop her off. It was summer, let them play.
My oldest daughter had her friend Maddy sleep over and was up early, out the door and riding scooters by the time I took Olivia to her play date. Let them play.
I have to cut this column short, we are out of bread, milk, Kool-Aid, cereal, jelly, peanut butter, crackers, cheese, apples, bananas and popsicles. I need to go on my daily run of supplies.