Monday, April 20, 2015

Wild Hot Crazy Summer

Aahhh! The joys of summer are upon us. It’s funny, I don’t remember my mom stressing  about what enriching activities or educational camps I would attend that would make me a well rounded person. I was raised “back in the day” (as we now like to say) in the 1980s. It was a kinder and simpler generation where we did unthinkable things like going outside and playing. When I say playing, it didn’t even involve any electronics, unless you counted the flash lights we stole so we could play tag past dark.

I grew up in Michigan, and to me it did not seem very glamorous. I lived on a dead-end street and played with my friend Colleen  Murphy  and Carrie Vacerelli. On the weekend, we "got to go to Grandma’s house,” while Mom and Dad would get to have an actual date night; we’d watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island with Grandma. Grandma's house had no bedtimes and it was awesome! I lived for summer break because it was a time to be with my friends and just get crazy. Crazy I tell you! Now, I’m raising two kids in the oh-so-glamorous city of L.A. and I’m thinking about my Michigan summers with a longing in my heart. But don’t let me fool you... we were wild and crazy!

These are some of the wilder activities in which we partook during the summer:
  1. We rode our bikes in the dirt without helmets. We were even allowed to ride around the neighborhood up to the store and buy a  whole pack of gum . Our moms did not worry about us  eating too much high fructose corn syrup in the gum. We made it! We all have our own teeth too. We didn’t worry too much about kidnappers because we learned how to protect ourselves from watching ABC After School Specials and Charlie’s Angels. It always worked out in the end.
  2. We put up sheets in the basement and did shows. We danced and sang to our Fisher Price Record Player and my little brother Mark was forced to be the MC. Donny and Marie Osmond never sounded so good!
  3. We came inside when we were hot and drank Tang like the astronauts or Hi-C Grape Juice (which had no grapes). Sometimes we even drank water from the tap or get this one… the hose! Yep, still standing. That probably explains a lot about my generation.
  4. We made mix-tapes of our favorite Whitney Houston songs and sang our hearts out. We wrote letters to our friends with puffy stickers on actual paper telling them of our summer adventures.
  5. At one point, every summer we piled in the back of a van and drove overnight across the country. My dad put a mattress in the back and we listened to Def Leppard on our tape recorders while Mom listened to ABBA and Juice Newton up in the front. I still know all the lyrics to “Queen of Hearts!" Somewhere during that trip, at least one kid would lose a mouth retainer in a McDonald’s dumpster and we would be forced to turn around and dig through garbage while hearing a lecture from Mom or Dad.
  6. We swam in the lake and pools and went fishing and had lemonade stands where the Country Time Lemonade was only ten cents a cup. I think we made about a dollar each summer! We were in heaven.
  7. Daily baths were optional because, like Mom said, "the pool is cleansing!”
  8. We did attend a lot of Bible schools because Mom wanted us to know the Word of God. Or, was it the free daycare? I get it now!
  9. We ran around and got sweaty and shot basketballs and played with hula hoops. On special occasions, Dad would let us go to the “movie” store and rent a Disney VHS. (If you don’t know what a VHS is... stop reading immediately! I'm too old for you!)
  10. We got to have sleep overs and build forts in the living room from Mom’s old sheets and eat pop corn and Fudgsicles till we got tummy aches. We made Snoopy Snow Cones in the back yard. We told “spooky stories” until we passed out in joyful sugar comas.
Not once do I remember begging my mom to attend science camps or video editing enrichment weekends . I didn’t know what “Mine Craft” was. All we had was one joy stick and we were happy eating dots or bouncing one dot back and forth between two paddles. All of the past month I’ve been Googling the perfect camps and activities for my seven year old to do this summer so I can make sure she doesn’t miss out on anything, then doesn’t get into a good college and end up homeless. Then it will all be my fault because I didn’t get her into the right summer activities. Who is this person I’ve become? Yesterday my four and seven year old asked me to play Princess with them. We got on dresses and had our fans in hand and made imaginary cupcakes. Ruby, the four year old, had to be the servant girl (you know, the plight of the youngest). We ran around and laughed and had so much fun. I can’t say I’ve been the best mom in this department. It seems there is always some distraction to draw me away from just being in the moment with my kids. I’m trying to put my phone/camera down and not feel the need to capture every “precious moment” to share with my five thousand closest friends on social media. It does not come naturally for me but I’m trying. Today, they wanted to play with me again. This time, we made Ruby the queen. They loved every minute of it. I realized that even in today's world of high-tech entertainment, my kids still want to be kids and it doesn’t take one dime to give them the best “enrichment” they could ever need: play time with MOM. Ok, I must admit I’m exhausted. Now after this, I’m definitely going to need some mommy time to “watch Netflix” on my phone. But don’t tell them ok?

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