I have great memories of my childhood summers between school years – playing outside until dusk after 8 p.m., swimming at the neighborhood pool until they turned the underwater pool lights on, riding my bicycle to the Stop & Go on the corner to pick up a gallon of milk for Mom (and candy for myself with the change as a treat). There were swimming lessons at the high school, arts and crafts making melted crayon candles, and piano lessons during the day.
When my children were younger, there was no discernable difference between summer vs. school time. My infant and preschooler continued attending their preK-daycare facility year-round. As they grew older, their childcare facility offered summertime weekly field trips as well as the opportunity for swimming, tennis, and golf lessons. Both of my girls learned to swim through the summer program, and though neither one expressed any interest in tennis, my older daughter tried her hand at golf once.
Last summer we tried something new, rotating through various week-long day camps that offer a swimming opportunity (not lessons). We also attended our first-ever week of Vacation Bible School at the Catholic church.
I don’t think either of my girls realized that other kids stayed at home during the summer until they entered elementary school. Before going to public school all of their friends were the other children at their PreK-childcare facility, and they played daily without exception.
When they started public school, I worried that they would realize they have a different routine from other kids. We maintain the same bedtime and wake-up schedule during summer as the school year. We still have to pack a lunch and get out the door at the same time every day. There are no lazy mornings sleeping in or bored afternoons in front of the television. We can’t have random, unscheduled, playtime with school friends from down the street. I worried because they won’t have the same experiences, the same memories, that I created in my own childhood.
However, I realize that much of my worry is because I know the difference. Every summer I get a case of the Working Mom Blues because I know they’ll never appreciate summer boredom. They might never know what it means to sleep until noon. Still, I stress over identifying the most appropriate summer care for their age and activities without over-stressing my budget. I suspect there are many working mom’s out there who share the same anxiety that comes when comparing our own childhood summer memories with our children’s present-day realities.
Yet I needn’t worry. While I know there’s a difference, my children don’t. They seem perfectly happy to attend this week’s gymnastics camp with swimming on the side. I can focus on my job knowing they’re active, engaged, and making new summer friends. Meanwhile, my 7 year old’s biggest complaint is that we don’t have a pool in the backyard like Aunt Lisa.
I wonder if our neighborhood pool has underwater lights for after dark.
Copyright 2010 Shelly Kelly