Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer days

We're just finishing the second full week of summer vacation, and the first week without any outside activities except for a couple of softball games. It kind of reminds me of when my husband says something like, "I spent a month in Podunk, Nevada, one weekend."

Has it really been only two weeks of summer? It sounds like most of the people out in Bloggetyville are faring better than I am with this. Kids are building teepees, creating scrapbooks from homemade cameras, recreating Gettysburg, or wrangling cattle at the crack of down. Why don't I ever read about the kids who tease and bicker with their siblings all day? Why don't I read
about kids whose only goal for the summer is to beat the next level on their video games? Who feel the need to eat a meal every two hours? Who then proceed to cook that meal and leave the kitchen looking like. . . a recreation of the Battle of Gettysburg.

On Wednesday, I told my two kids that they had no choice, they were going to get off their lazy butts enjoy the outdoors and go for a bike ride. They said they didn't feel like it. I repeated that they had no choice. In fact, I told them to get on their bikes and just go somewhere. I didn't care where it was, but they had to be gone for an hour, at least, and if they came back early, they would each have a list of jobs to do.
** edited to add: my kids are 12 and 15. I wouldn't suggest doing this with 5-year-olds, though you might be tempted!

You would think I'd told them to wash the driveway with a toothbrush. They whined and moaned and complained, but to no avail. I thought to myself, I don't care if they ride down to the corner and just sit there for an hour, I want them out of the house!

They asked if they could stop and go out to lunch somewhere. Whaa-at?

Finally, I got them out the door so I could enjoy my Bon-Bons and a movie on Pay-per-View wash the kitchen floor. As I started to clean out the fridge, the phone rang. It was my daughter.

I don't even know why I'm asking you this . . .


We're-at-the-pet-shop-and-they-have-kittens-up-for-adoption-and-. . .


I told you. . . (this to Luke as she was hanging up the phone.)

About 20 minutes later, they got home. They came in the door, laughing, and with twice as much energy as they had when they left, even though they insisted it was so hot that "they thought they would die."

The next day I substituted some chores for the bike ride. And, oddly enough, today they both came up with something to do on their own.

I know my brothers and I must have driven my mother nuts during the summer. There was a reason that she hung the American flag on the first day of the school year, in celebration. But honestly, we were more creative in those days, coming up with things to do. We lived in a neighborhood full of kids. And none of us was allowed to play in the house! We had breakfast and it was "good-bye" until lunchtime (which consisted of a permanent menu of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Kool-ade). There were plenty of places to roam, and when it became beastly hot, we were "lucky" that one of the families on the block had a big garage and Mrs. Gottschall would let us set up all our Barbie things inside and we'd create a town and play all afternoon. To us, it was as good as air conditioning. We just had to make sure we cleaned everything up at the end of the day so that Mr. Gottschall could park his car.

My brothers took to making their own fun, using car inner tubes (I wonder where they got them?) to float down the irrigation ditch near our house. They made it sound like so much fun, so I went along one time. ONE time. The water was muddy brown, the horse flies were as big as chipmunks, and the rope swing they told so many stories about hung over a big mud slide. No wonder my mom insisted they go "commando" and wear only their oldest shorts. She could never bleach their underwear clean again.

We took old sheets and made a tent in the backyard. It even had a flag pole to fly the American flag. My dad dubbed the place Camp Run-amok. One summer he took some soup cans and set them in the lawn, and we had our own miniature golf course. We signed up for the library reading program every summer. Unlike the programs today, where there are tiers of prizes that include passes to the swimming pool and coupons for ice cream, our "prize" was a certificate and our own American flag. We would make a trip to the library at least once a week, walking or taking our bikes, to get a new armload of books.

It sounds like we were a bunch of hooligans, compared to the kids nowadays. But we made our own fun because if we used the "B" word (bored), we were given jobs to do, something we dreaded and I'm sure my mother dreaded even more.

And those summers really didn't last all that long, because by the time we were in our teens, we were all working. I babysat as early as I could and then worked at Dairy Queen. My brothers all worked for the local lumber yard. And before we knew it the summer had flown by, and it was time for school to begin. And we always welcomed it when it did.


Barb said...

You absolutely nailed the way we grew up. What memories reading this brought back. I can't remember ever being bored for a single minute of summer. And that's saying something because not one moment of our entire summer was structured. Not one. We operated entirely on our imagination and I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.

I hear you about the eating every two hours. I'm already seeing that in Cameron and he'll be four in a week for pete's sake.

Thanks for the tip on how to scrub a driveway. LOL

Joanne said...

You are too funny, and spot-on right. Yesterday, one day after school was let out, my daughter and I saw so many high school kids just standing around at the Green, idle, looking bored. They don't seem to have jobs, hobbies, passions, interests unless you count FaceBook. I wouldn't trade my childhood summers for theirs for anything. Keep us posted on your summer, it was very entertaining!

Bill said...

You are a clever mom. And you learned from a Master Mother.
I love your childhood summer memories. They sound so similar to my own. And I would have been right there in the mud with your brothers. We had a spot like that right down our street by the lake.

Melissa said...

Oh for the good 'ol days. I miss those days.

Thank you so much for your kind words about Summer Pudding. You are a sweetheart.


Becky said...

What!?!? No kitten!?!?! (I don't blame you ... whispered).

Enjoy the carefree summer days. They'll be ready for school when the time comes. So will you I suspect :)

Kim said...

Oh Karen, you just wrote about my childhood summers! If we moped around we got the dreaded chores of yard work: weeding, and hand clipping around all the flower beds with those little hand clippers because I am talking about pre-weedwacker days here. That clipping job always ended up leaving terrible blisters on our hands.

Oh for the days when it was politically correct to even give your kids kool-aide or anything else with red dye #5 in it.

We did make our own fun and we did read. A lot. Another game we played was Land of the Giants with our Little Kiddle dolls in the flower beds!

Thanks for the great post. My boy still has 1.5 more days of school--talk about whining and fussing. We would have been out last week, but due to the pesky winter storms we had this past winter we have snow days to make up.


Susanne said...

Oh boy. You perfectly described what I battle all summer long with my own teens. Sometimes I'd just like to put the computer and game consoles and cell phones into a locked cupboard from the end of June to the first day of school.

We did tons of stuff in the summer too when I was a kid. We had lots of kids in the neighbrohood and we'd all just meet around the corner at the baseball diamond and play not just baseball but all sorts of stuff. We'd take picnics and have them in all sorts of locations around the neighborhood. I sometimes think with all the "organized sports" we put our kids in all year long that these pick up games have gone by the wayside.

Sarah said...

Somehow I missed this post, but, boy, did you nail my childhood on the head. What great memories you conjoured up for me from your reminiscing. It is so true what you said about not coming in the house - everything was outside, everything. Thank goodness for a grove of trees at my grandma's when all the cousins were there...we'd use twine and string out rooms in our house, complete with an old milk can for a bathroom. And, it got used as one, too. Love it. I try to get my kids to do as much of that as I can, but they too love their computer games, and thus we have a one hour limit daily - which to me seems about 59 minutes too long.

Jen said...

I remember great times during my summers too....i stayed at my aunts house and loved riding my bike through her neighborhood and going to the local mom and pop grocery with change my mama had given me to buy candy...or sodas. I agree with you on the bickering...Miller and Madison are 8 years difference and its hard....right now they are arguing over some video game...and its 97 degrees here...too hot to be out...

BClark said...

My early childhood was spent with my Grandparents. I do not ever remember being bored, Grampa always had something for me to do. Yucky stuff like picking worms off the cabbage, fun stuff like builing a little boat to float in the lake. The boats almost always tipped over, back to the drawing board.
Later I lived in Fl, so it was swimming, tennis, fishing, just hanging out. We never went in until it was too dark to see anything. We played tag, softball, redrover etc. Very seldom was I in the house.

diana said...

reading your memories made me nostalgic for days gone by.

i remember making "forts", playing with the neighborhood kids all day long, riding bikes everywhere, trips to the library, playing hide and go seek later in the evening, and on and on.

you're right - i don't ever remember being bored, without a computer or video game in sight. boy, have times changed.

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Oh my...your summers sound just like mine, right down to never, EVER using the D word for fear of being given something to do!! LOL!

I can remember the feel of that warm, summer twilight when all the kids in the neighborhood were still outside trying to wring out the last bit of daylight playing ball or exploring the woods behind the house.

Great post!