Why do old-fashioned summers seem a thing of the past?
Is it because of year round school?
The fact that Americans just don’t take time off?
Or is it simply because I’ve grown up?
For me, summer vacation was like living in a different world…
The rules were different.
The places you visited were different.
Your friends were different.
Remember those summer friends?? I don’t remember some kids I went to school with all year…but I sure do remember those kids I saw for a few weeks every summer.
Like the family that lived across the street from my Grandmother in Long Island.
I watched my first game of ‘Spin The Bottle’ in their backyard (my older brother and sister said I was too young to play).
Then there were those kids who lived next door to the house we rented on a lake in Maine. We got to sleep out on the dock with them and watch for shooting stars. That was also the summer I learned to dive.
And since I grew up on the beach in Florida, most of my friends “summered” where I lived. I’d watch them come and go all summer long.
There was Cory with his blonde hair and suntan… whom I had a mad crush on.
There was Tiffany, whose grandmother “Cookie” bought us cool sunglasses one day.
We’d ride bikes on the beach and do back-dives in the pool.
And I loved the family that visited with the 6 kids, because they always had an industrial-sized box of Blow Pops.
I spent the entire summer in my bathing suit.
We’d “shower” in the outdoor hose on the boardwalk. My mom never stopped me to scrub off the sand or rinse chlorine out of my green hair.
We ate at whatever family’s grill was hot with burgers and dogs.
It was during those summers that I snuck out of the house at night to meet friends. I was old enough to play spin the bottle by then, but I never left the neighborhood- and I never got in trouble.
Last week I drove my son 9 hours to his grandparents’ house on the beach in Florida.
I signed him up for “Zookeeper Camp” with the children of my hometown best friend. I shuttled him to pool party after pool party. We stayed up late at night, got up early, and rarely showered the sand off our feet. I was worried I’d let him do too much, that he’d be “spent” by the time we got home. But as we returned in time for school, just like I always was, my son seemed satisfied, fulfilled and refreshed!
I realize now that an old-fashioned summer is… your own great memory.
Clearly, we need only to provide our children with an opportunity to make these memories.