Friday, July 27, 2012

An Old-Fashioned Summer

I'm a big believer in old-fashioned summers.

The ability to give my kids a carefree summer is one of my favorite things about writing (okay, okay you all read about my hot and steamy love affair with the current WIP so maybe that's not exactly the truth, but it's high on the list).

I love the structureless days. I love the way we drift through entire weeks on nothing more than whims and odd food choices. Berries and deli meat for breakfast, okay, why not. Sometimes I declare it a day of snacking and grazing, no proper meals allowed and that's exactly what we do.

Summer, of course, isn't all easy, breezy, effortless days. There's a transition period. We go from racing from one scheduled activity to the next during the school year to doing not much besides summer swim team.

Due to my love of unstructure (I'm not sure that's a word) there are the days, especially at the beginning of the summer, where the kids will ask with more than a little desperation, "What are we doing today?"

I'll say, "Well, I'm plannng on writing, maybe I'll go for a run and I'm dying to finish the book I'm reading. What are you planning on doing?"

They always look at me as though I've gone insane when I say things like that.

It takes a few uncomfortable weeks before the message sinks in. There are arguments, grouchiness, sassiness and general irritability. Then, at precisely the moment when I think I can't take any more and I should really have signed them up for more camps, everything clicks.

They figure it out. Fun is their responsibility and they are capable of creating it.

Right now, there is an enormous fort in the basement with playing cards strewn everywhere. My daughter's room looks like a tornado of fabric pieces because she's in "design mode".

They've created an intricate pretend game that involves Beyblades, spinning tops that battle, for the uninitiated. All my big kitchen spoons have been co-opted for a game of spoon puppets. Swim suits and beach towels are hanging everywhere.

Summer has finally arrived. It's all in finding the right attitude.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a good lesson to teach them. I always found things to do on my own.

Carol Kilgore said...

Sounds like a perfect summer to me :)
Happy Weekend!

Connie J Jasperson said...

Awesome post! I agree totally about how summers should be lived. And if 'unstructure' isn't a word, it should be!

Jemi Fraser said...

Awesome! So many kids don't know how to organize themselves anymore. They are so adult directed, it's hard for them to relax and find that creativity & imagination the world so desperately needs. Yay you!

The Bookworm said...

That is great Johanna, "love of unstructure".

Anonymous said...

Color me jealous!

Joanne Noragon said...

Good for you. Some of my grandchildren have difficulty entertaining themselves. They suffer enormous ennui at grandma's, or they get it and enjoy themselves and their siblings and cousins.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I'm lucky. My girls have always been good at unstructure and entertaining themselves. My husband and I always said, "Give them string, scotch tape, and some paper and they are good for hours!"

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I was an only kid, so I always had to entertain myself.

Now you are free for the summer!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

That food looks really good. It also makes me wish that summer lasted longer. The school year comes far too quickly, and it makes me appreciate summer even more.

T. L. Cooper said...

Love this whole post, but this line really jumped out at me.

"They figure it out. Fun is their responsibility and they are capable of creating it."

In our highly driven world, we all tend to forget this a little too often! We have a tendency put fun off for when we have time, and then we never have time. I've discovered though when I take responsibility for my fun and do something fun, my productivity and mood also benefit greatly!

Hart Johnson said...

You're a good mom. I wish my husband could have been a little less structured, as he was the at home parent at our house. He DOES 9though it is less important now that they're teens as they do it on their own more) insist they go out and find something to do outside for a while most days. But mostly he has a low tolerance for unpredictability.

Michael Di Gesu said...

How awesome,

This sounds like my childhood, lazy days of summer. Both my parents worked, so I had to plan my summer fun with friends and daily outings.

M Pax said...

It's fun to create your own games. My brothers, sister, and I used to. The whole neighborhood would gather on our lawn on summer nights for TV tag. You just don't see those things happening much anymore.

Johanna Garth said...

Alex, I hope so!

Thanks Carol.

Connie, let's agree that it's a word!

Jemi, that adult direction is what accounts for a little loss of what to do with themselves in the first weeks.

Dianne, you have no idea how lucky you are.

L. Diane, me too.

Neurotic, we do our best to appreciate summer.

TL, I couldn't agree more.

Hart, not so sure about the good...but we do have lots of fun.

Michael, that's exactly what I'm going for.

MPax, actually my neighborhood is located in a time warp that's like the 1950s so we have herds of kids running all over ;)

Gina Gao said...

Great post. I liked this post very much.

Tonja said...

Unfortunately, my older kids find fun in video games, hours and hours of video games. If left to his own decisions, my small person would watch Sponge-Bob 24x7.

We need structure. :)

Your summer sounds like a lot of fun.

Talli Roland said...

Well done! My parents were the same with me. They always had their own agenda and my brother and I were responsible for ours. I think that's how it should be!

Alison DeLuca said...

Spoon puppets and design mode? Priceless! Good Lord, you're a great mom.

Shell Flower said...

I love this: "What are we doing today?"

"Well, I'm plannng on writing, maybe I'll go for a run and I'm dying to finish the book I'm reading. What are you planning on doing?"

That is such a good answer! You're modelling behavior that you want to see in your kids. Way to help them take responsibility for their own entertainment.

When I was a kid we were expected to stay outside all day and only come home for meals and bed.

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