It has been a rough start to the summer for me.
It is hard to be a parent. It is harder to be a parent whose profession has been educating middle school kids for 15 years. It is not because I focused on the science curriculum for so long that I feel compelled to do organized experiments with the kids. Actually, it is quite the opposite. It is because I know what kids need, what they deserve and what a summer should be. Unlike my classroom, where the kids were mine for 50 minutes or more a day and I could, in that little microcosm, direct our lives, the reality of summer is tough. I find that my view of summer is drastically different than many of my parent peers. I am swimming upstream. I have a few compadres who struggle to swim with me, but it is not easy. And it has not been fun.
This is my summertime manifesto for my MS son…..
The kids should be outside. All the time. It is not too hot. They do not need breaks. They need water and snacks and cookies and Kool-Aid and a push out the door. I hope they have a place to roam and explore and get in a little bit of trouble. They should be with friends. Lots of different friends. And they should not have their time scheduled with movies, bowling or too many organized activities. That should be a treat – not an expectation. They should figure out how to be bored and turn it into fun. They should play whiffle ball and neighborhood golf and basketball or any thing else they make up. They should go to the pool with just a ball and stay for 6 hours. One camp, maybe two. They should watch the World Cup. They should argue with their buddies and figure out how to get along without any parent involvement. They should wind down after the sun sets. They should be dead dog tired after their shower at night. They should be reminded – through words, deeds and attitude – that what they do should be fun. We should take away our own expectations – whether it be for the sports they play or the schoolwork they should do – and let them have fun.
Worried about how far their lacrosse team or baseball team or swim team will go? Will they play the full half? What is their batting average? Can they beat their best time and qualify for the all star swim meet? Worry all you want but do not put that on them. They are boys. They are not being scouted this summer because of their athletic prowess. They aren’t. Those are our adult worries and concerns, not young boys. Teach them to be good a teammate. Inspire them to do their best and then take what comes.
I have been in knots lately because I have second guessed what I want for this summer. But I am done with all of the adult nonsense. I know what makes my son happy. I know what he needs. It has way more to do with dirty clothes, a ruined lawn and copious amounts of sugared drinks. He will remember that. He will cherish those memories.
I am having a cold glass of grape Kool-Aid, forgoing the sunscreen (gasp!) and taking the plate in the whiffle ball league. Long live summer.