There are quite a few articles going around right now about how parents need to let their kid have the “1970s Summer”, and I could not agree more! I remember summer being an amazing time of playing outside with my friends, riding my bike all over the neighborhood, creating adventures and fantastical stories, putting on plays and using my imagination in the most amazing ways. I had a computer, and I would use it on rainy days, and we had a TV, and sometimes I just wanted to stay inside and watch TV all day or play with my Barbies for hours. Regardless, my mom and dad basically did little to entertain me. My dad would take me to the park after he got home from work or on weekends, but otherwise I was left to my own devices. When my brother Scrod was old enough to play, they had a harder time with him because he wanted to do EVERY SINGLE SPORT in the world (except soccer), so they had to run him all over the place and go to practices and games and all that crap. Not me!
But I digress.
Having a four year old is a little different from having a five year old, and having a kid period is very different from it was in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s. These days everyone is in everyone’s business, and not in the good way like it was back then. Now, instead of the village helping raise the children and looking out for each other’s families, the village is poised ready to attack when they see another parent doing something they disagree with. You have probably heard recently about some parents who ran into trouble with the law – twice! – because they let their kids walk home from school and go to the park alone. The kids were ten and almost seven years old! If I thought he’d come back at a reasonable time and could pay attention to traffic, I’d have no problem sending JI to the park by himself. He’s just a bit too young and irresponsible this summer – maybe next summer.
My point is, though, and I think the point of the other parents writing these articles, is that we really need to disengage from the idea that children run our world or our lives. I have a few more posts coming up that will be discussing this subject, and I look forward to discussing with my readers about the subject. Back in my childhood, my parents were #1 – not me. Yes, I got everything I needed and practically everything I wanted. I was not neglected in any way. But my parents didn’t bow to me, they didn’t hover over me to ensure success, they didn’t pave the way with pillows so that I’d never get hurt. I had to take my lumps and learn my lessons just like they did. I don’t know when the shift occurred from family centric (ie, do what is good for all involved) to child centric (ie, make sure each child gets exactly what they want/need at all costs).
This brings me back to the idea of an 80s summer (I wasn’t alive in the 70s hehe), which is what I want for JI, and what I will be doing my best to accomplish for him. Yes, that statement sounds like I’m being child centric, but let me lay it out for you. I will not be planning many activities. I will not be driving him to COSI, the Zoo, a hundred play-dates, museums, classes, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, we will probably go to the Zoo once or twice a week – because I LOVE the zoo and we have a membership and it is free. Sure, we will hit up COSI a couple of times every month, because we have a membership and it is free. I’m not going to go broke trying to entertain my child. I want him to get dirty. I’m going to let him eat lots of popsicles. I want him to get scraped knees and bruises because he is playing so hard. (Disclaimer: I don’t actually want my kid to get hurt! But if he does, it won’t be the end of the world.) The way he climbs without fear makes me worried that this might be the summer of a broken limb. I’m going to utilize The Bored Jar. I’m going to send him out in the morning after breakfast, let him in for lunch, send him back out until snack time, and then maybe I’ll sit him down for an activity. If I feel like it. I’m going to let him get sticky and filthy and have black bare feet. I want him to remember this summer as an amazing, awesome, wonderful time when he got to grow up and be a real boy instead of mommy’s baby.
But he’ll always be my baby, we all know that.
So the rules of this summer are as follows:
- No whining.
- No begging.
- If it looks fun, do it.
- If you get hurt, tell me.
- Be brave.
- Be strong.
- Use your brain.
- Use your muscles.
- Drink from the hose.
- Have fun!
This is what adults do for fun in the summertime…