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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