Monday, June 16, 2014

How to Have an Awesome (really) Summer

10. Make a plan.  You may not get to everything, but make a plan. Otherwise, when the kids say "I'm bored." you will either spend too much money, turn on a screen or miss the opportunity to make really lovely memories.  We have a list of 100 things to do this summer on our refrigerator.  This alone takes care of a day, just making the list!

9) Be Spontaneous. Yes, it seems like it contradicts #10 but it doesn't.  Today you go to the pool. Tomorrow the park, the day after that, the library. They don't know what you've got planned, but they know, you've got a plan, that makes the kids, be they 16 or 6, ready to go along, to trust you've got something up your sleeve.  

8) Be present.  The best days?  When I sit and play cards with them, when we turn on the radio and dance, or buy ice cream from the truck and read six box without getting up.  None of those require massive cash, only presence.  A sprinkler in the backyard is pure joy especially if Mom and/or Dad join in the play.  For older ones, capture the flag with mini squirt guns --so everyone can play and no one cries, is necessary. Yeah, we use water balloons too.  We've never quite grown up.

7) Food, glorious food!  Buy from the roadside stands, pick berries, make ice tray pops like they used to show you on Saturday morning and show the kids this little goofy thing from your childhood that makes them glad they are young now.  


6) Frustrate yourself.   Yep.  Teach yourself something new.  Summer is time for mistakes, lots of them, without the irritation of a grade.  So paint, sew, play the guitar.  DIY.  Garden. Read a hard book, begin to learn a language or take up exercise. Be prepared to learn through hard knocks.  You'll model to your children the reality they know in school but think somehow stops after adulthood hits, that learning is  process, it's hard, it's work, and it takes time, but ultimately, it reveals character, it deepens one's empathy for others, respect for those who do whatever it is, professionally, and is fun besides. 

5) Don't build a Japanese Destroyer. 

Japanese destroyers, starting with the Fubuki, began the state of the art destroyer design for World War II. With enclosed, double turrets and heavy gun and torpedo armament, the Fubukis and their successors, the "special type," set the standard for all later design -- although the Japanese desire to pack as much as possible onto the ships tended to make them top heavy.

What do you mean?  I mean don't try to take on redecorating the house while mastering French, growing prize tomatoes and learning jazz guitar.  Pick one or pick small parts of all, but do not pick all, or your summer will become top heavy, slow to maneuver and difficult to manage.   I am in constant peril of building Fubukis.

4) Cut away the screens.  I set hours.  I've tried limits but it means I get to nag everyone to get off the machine which hurts my relationship with everyone.  Hence, the hours.  9-5, no screens.  Hint: Movies out, do not count, everything, ds, phone, laptop, desktop, tv, vcr,  I'm even  answered the "What about your blog?" (Write by hand).  and "What about email?"  (I check before 9 and after 5).  and "What about your book (Read, write by hand, write after 5 or before 9) and what about other projects?  --I've printed up the list, writing by hand.  It will be better for it.   Which then allows me to eliminate the you're doing it argument.   Sometimes you have to surrender to win.  

3) Invite others.  Every toy, game and costume becomes instantly alarmingly interesting when other kids are present and it's new to them.   Even the pool we always go to, becomes a great place to the jaded olders if they can bring friends. 

2) Have a few aces up your sleeve.  I've got poppers, chalk, squirt guns and bubbles for outside days, and three card games, one board game and two crazy cake mixes for rainy, plus a collection of home and classic movies I will break out for when they can't get away. 

1)  Do nothing. Kids and adults need the rejuvenation that comes from discovering the pleasure of doing something silent and alone.  Summer gives everyone the opportunity.  So every once in a while, the answer to "What are we going to do today?" is "Get a book, get a blanket, get an apple." and the long lovely quiet of being alone and finding yourself good company. 

Happy Summer!  It's almost 9, so it's time to turn off my machine. 


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