Summertime, So Far


Summer is a strange season in this age. No longer do kids just leave the house all day and return when Dad whistles into the yellow rays of the street lights to come home for dinner.

I just read this article called The Case Against Summer Camp. It’s true, kids do need unstructured, unplugged time. But in this era, instead of playing with other kids who are also home for the summer, if your child is at home and not in camp, he is usually alone simply because there is no one else around (I mean kids, not adults).

Working parents don’t just work for shits and giggles (at least, none of the ones I know do) and send their kids to camp just because they want to keep their kids busy. Most people work to keep a roof over their heads and send kids to summer camp for childcare. Especially in places like California, where the cost of living is high. So kids go to camp, often day camp, in the summer, because there is no school, and camp is more reasonably priced than a nanny.

As a work-at-home parent, I face a different kind of scheduling dilemma: playdates, which take a planner and a lot of back-and-forth emailing/texts/phone calls. Some of my kids’ best buds have two working parents, and if the kids miss a day of their camp to hang out, it can mess up the rest of their week, so sometimes it’s just a no-go. It’s just a fact of modern life. We do the best we can.

In the summer, Cadillac goes to work early and comes home early. So if the kids don’t have anything to do, we sleep in a bit. We go outside and clean the pool. We water the roses and the garden and do some chores. We hang around and make pancakes. The kids entertain themselves, mostly. Maybe it’s that boredom factor. I do a little writing, usually. It’s been hot, so we stay inside during the hottest part of the day.

Then, after Cadillac gets home (during which time he needs a nap, since he got up at dawn to go to work), and then we swim, or go to the nighttime zoo, or go on a hike, or go to the beach. Sometimes people come over, or we go somewhere else. In the dark-time, we might watch a family movie.

Here are some things we’re doing this summer, so far.

Having fires.

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Trying but not completely replicating Hawaiian shave ice, at a local spot. (And yes, it’s “shave ice,” not “shaved ice.”)

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Teenage side-eye at Mom taking a photo.
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Half-day tennis camp. They loved it!
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Tent camping in the backyard. More fire. S’Mores.

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Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

2 thoughts on “Summertime, So Far

  1. Rather than having it easier, I believe people have it harder today trying to raise children in our high speed high tech world.
    WE lived simpler lives when my kids were little. I stayed home and husband worked. He worked and worked and worked. He had no choice in the job her had. I was mostly mother and dad. I went to meetings, I car pooled. I cooked cleaned and did the dishes. However, the kids played outside almost all day. I couldn’t get them inside for anything. We lived on a wooded lot. They played in the woods, rode their bikes on the street, fought on the grass. I didn’t worry that they were going to be kidnapped, touched, bothered in any way.
    Perhaps I was naive. It just seems a happier time as I look back. OR here’s the killer question, am I looking back through rose colored glasses. Prettying up our lives when perhaps they weren’t so pretty. I don’t know. My children seem to think their childhoods were terrific. Whatever era we are in, raising children is not for the weak.
    Have a great rest of the summer.

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