I finally realized, after this weekend, why exactly, my folks did NOT sign us up for every single event and activity during summer vacation.
I, foolishly, thought it was simply because A) my parents didn't love me enough to give me what I wanted, and B) we were poor.
I now understand that it is because it is a heap of work to get kids up, sunscreened, bug-sprayed, weather-geared up, and loaded into a vehicle along with all the accessories such as diapers, wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, first aid kit (purse size), snacks, drinks, toys, hats, sunglasses, and whatever other items I might need for things like balls, bats, gloves, swimsuits, leotards, tights, ballet shoes, combs, brushes, chickens, pigs, and dogs...(just making sure you're reading!!!)
My mother was a wise, wise woman - she knew that simply being allowed to shove us out the back door in the morning to play in our $10 plastic wading pool, run through sprinklers, play super heroes with our swim towels fastened around our necks with the clothespins from our clothesline, imagine, create, dream, dig in our awesome sandbox (man I wish I could move that bugger to my house now!), ride our bikes up and down our streets, take our basketball or tennis racquets and balls across to the public courts and play, or ride our bikes around the corner to the elementary school playground, or, yes, even the 2 miles to the 7Eleven with our allowance to purchase Slurpees and Laffy Taffy or those awesome giant Jolly Rancher candy sticks, meant that she was able to achieve things inside the house such as sewing projects, tidying, reading, knitting, embroidering, ironing, laundry, cooking, etc. It also meant we were WORN THE FREAK OUT when we came in at lunchtime. It meant that when she said "its too hot after lunch, so you may either go to the basement to play, or you may sit quietly on the couch to read a book that you chose from the library." we listened to her. We would obediently troop to the basement, where we'd build with Legos, set up GI Joe forts, Barbie worlds, or color in coloring books, or play Cops and Robbers.
We didn't have cable until right before MTV made its debut (I actually go to watch "Video Killed the Radio Star" because I was sick that day!!!!)...so we only had the "big three" networks, PBS, and the local station. And if you remember correctly, back in the day, you maybe got to watch some early morning cartoons, but by 9am, it was talk shows, old movies, soap operas, uber educational shows like "Sewing with Nancy", Julia Child, and the like, or news. So, if you were lucky enough to actually be awake and downstairs before my mother (good luck with THAT!), you could sneak in watching an episode of Blinky the Clown or Electric Company. But if you didn't you were Out. Of. Luck. No television except for the news during week days.
We'd take weekly treks to the public library (a feat I have not yet perfected with my 3 hooligans - mostly because you can't just let your kids go into the Children's Library and leave them anymore, people actually call the cops, but that's a post for another day), and Mom would send us off to the Children's Library, where we'd browse our age-appropriate sections, listen to the story lady read, and then rush to claim one of the old claw-foot tubs that had been padded with foam and covered with faux fur (when I think of the nasty germs now I shudder and feel the urge to shower!), or one of the cool giant plastic cubes that had the same foam and fur inside so you could curl up with a book and read while you waited for your parents to finish their browsing and come collect you...I love the smell of ink and books, and that musty library smell that lingers, no matter what they do.
We'd occasionally get to go to the kiddie pools with our friends because we could ride our bikes and/or had enough allowance. When we got older, I remember being friends with a girl in my Brownie troop whose folks were members of our local Country Club and being invited for a sleepover and getting to swim at the pool where the waiters would actually bring you a menu and then your food. I also remember the rare occasions we got to go with a friend to the local outdoor public pool and how we'd live for those days...
We didn't do tee ball, or summer baseball, or tennis camp, or dance camp, or horseback riding camp, or ice skating camp or underwater basketweaving camp.
We did VBS at our Church, not every single Church that offered it, as some of my friends do. If we were lucky, we'd get to do Church Camp, but that wasn't til Junior High.
Needless to say...when Princess wanted to continue her dance class through the 6-week summer session, I was pleased to say yes. Every Tuesday morning we went.
Then Tee-Ball started. And every Monday and Wednesday morning we went.
It didn't matter that both events were within a 10-minute drive (I actually rode the bike with the kids in the trailer and the baby in the bike seat to Tee-Ball because it's less than a half mile from our house), it still eats up the ENTIRE MORNING. And then the kids are wound up, overstimulated and don't want to do anything...
We're rethinking next summer break already. At least I am. BB doesn't quite get it. And granted, next summer I may not have any that take morning naps.
I do know that I'll make sure that the things we do are either on the same mornings, OR that they do the same things - like swimming lessons, where I can put Littlest One in the child care center, and go workout while the big kids swim!
Well, my laundry is calling my name, my children are "grounded" from technological devices, so I'm "forcing" them to be imaginative and play in their playroom with toys.
Captain actually told me this morning that he couldn't play with his trains because "they're all the way in the basement!"
If I'd had a camera to capture the utter disbelief on his little face and the look of utter horror in his eyes at 24 full hours without TV, radio, Wii, or iPod I'd have included it. But you shall have to imagine his giant blue eyes wide, the thick black lashes practically standing at attention, rosy cheeks even redder than usual in his indignation, mouth gaping, and shoulders drooping.
And for the record? It's not as though we have our TV or radio on all the time. And he only gets to play Wii or on the iPod for 10 minutes at a time once a week or so...
PS - if you have any fun new ways to build blanket forts, pass them along will you? I've got a couch, an upright piano, an oak dining table and 6 chairs (2 with arms) and multiple king-sized sheets, blankets and pillows at my disposal.