What happened to summer vacation? Based on the blog updates I have been getting, the concept of summer vacation is as outdated as parachute pants! Why? And when did this change take place?
I realized it fully this past week as I began to read some of the blog updates in my reader. I started to see a theme–a question posed in many of these blogs. That question asked, “What are you planning to do to keep your kids busy this summer?” Excuse me? Did that really read, “keep my kids busy this summer”? As I read blogs and responses to blogs, I started to realize that, apparently, kids do not actually GET a summer vacation anymore. Oh, school is done and homework is non existent, but it seems parents feel the need to plan every minute of their child’s summer to ensure their offspring are not bored. What is wrong with boredom?
Thirty some years ago (this makes me sound very old) I was a child. I was blessed to live in a great neighborhood with several other kids close to my age. None of them were exactly my age, but we were all within 2-4 years of each other. All of our moms stayed home. When summer came we played outside…all day, everyday. It was an unspoken rule among all the moms that indoors was off limits. If it happened to rain, we all went into one of our garages to play or to our own homes to wait out the weather. We all had pools and we would spend our days going from one pool to the next to the next. My neighbor across the street, Vinny, he had the best pool. He was the only one with an inground pool and a diving board. Eventually they added a water slide as well. The only problem with Vinny’s yard was that he had big scary dogs. We dealt with it though. If we got tired of swimming, we rode our bikes, roller skated, played tennis in the street, or just sat on the lawn and talked. We made forts out of cardboard boxes. We played at the hill. Oh, the tales we came up with for the big, smooth rock that no one could move at the bottom of the hill. We would look for tadpoles in the pond at the bottom of the hill. We would wait for Mr. Softy to come so we could buy ice cream. I sure loved to hear the music of his truck. I always hoped he wouldn’t come right at dinner time! We didn’t dare tell our parents we were bored. That would get us hard labor in a heartbeat!
Fast forward to today. Today’s children get done with school and then start summer school. Now, summer school when I was growing up was a bad thing. It meant you didn’t pass your grade and needed to catch up. Now, they don’t call it summer school where I live. It is called summer sun block…a block of fun classes held throughout the day so mom doesn’t have to deal with the kids at home during summer “vacation”. Maybe it is just me, but when our school year ended, the last place I would have wanted to go to in July was school! And I loved school for the most part! Moms fret about planning play dates and all sorts of things to keep their kids busy. I am not saying parents shouldn’t do things with their kids. I think that is a good thing, but to micromanage every day so kids are just as busy over the summer as they are during the school year is not doing their children any favors. Boredom causes resourcefulness. It makes a kid be creative and come up with something to entertain them. And before you say that bored kids entertain themselves by getting trouble, remember that usually happens because parents have not been around to teach their children what it means to be respectful of others and their property. We were bored at times but we knew better than to go beat someone’s mailbox with a baseball bat.
Summer vacation should be just that–vacation. Time for kids and parents to relax and be creative, spend time together just hanging out as a family, and getting to know others around you. Children who are constantly entertained grow up to be adults who need to be constantly entertained and lack the resourcefulness to find healthy means of entertainment. It can lead to over spending, over eating and a host of other issues in their adult lives. Take back summer vacation and do your kids a favor!