Most parents do their very best to provide for their children. While some (dare I say old-school) folks may believe providing for ones child includes ensuring a child is fed, washed, clothed, and fed, I think its safe to say that most of today’s parents strive to give their children more.
My husband and I have one child. Our son is 9 years old and the light of our lives. He is smart, kind, and compassionate; an all around good kid. He rarely gives us any trouble and does well in school. For these reasons, as well as a few others, we do our very best to give him the best possible life we can. We make a conscious effort to employ an “honesty policy” in our house, and have assured our son that he can come to us with anything. We find ourselves saying the words, “we can’t help you if we don’t know whats happening” frequently in our house. We believe in age appropriate honesty and truly hearing our son, ensuring he knows and understands that his feelings, thoughts, and beliefs matter; he matters.
As a child I never attended Summer Camp. I spent the dog days of Summer riding bikes with my younger siblings and the neighborhood kids, playing ball, manhunt, and whatever else we could think up. Weekend trips to the beach with my grandmother were something to look forward to and I enjoyed them very much. My husband, on the other hand, attended an out-of-state affluent Summer Camp every Summer from the time he was very young through his teenage years. As the school year winds down we find ourselves looking at camps and activities for our very own little guy. I’d be happy with my toes in the sand, watching my son frolic about in the water at the beach (where we live). My husband, on the other hand, believes camps are an essential part of social development; a right of passage. To his credit, our son agrees, and so the search for all things Summer Camp and/or Activity related has been in full swing in our house for the past few weeks.
Our son has decided he would like to attend an intensive baseball clinic, a month of sailing lessons, and a golf instructional camp. While I am elated that he has such well rounded interests, I can’t help but wonder, when will he have time to, you know, be a kid and enjoy his Summer Break? Just the other night he appeared out of his room and declared, “I’d like to add tennis lessons to my Summer activities.” I nearly fell off the couch at the thought of another activity, another expense, another week spent driving back and forth to tennis lessons. We kindly explained to our little guy that, yes, he may take tennis lessons but only if he were willing forgo one of his other activities. Admittedly, I was secretly hoping he’d jump at the opportunity and ax sailing, which is by far, the most expensive of his Summer activities. He declined, though and resigned himself to “only” being able to attend the baseball clinic, the month of sailing, and the weeks long instructional golf program.
Visibly disappointed, he retreated to his room and I sat with my thoughts. When did it become “the norm” to schedule our kids every minute? When did Summer Break become synonymous with regimented camps and activities, leaving very little free time for vacations, beach days, and most importantly, family time? Parents look forward to the end of the school year so that we may loosen the chains that our school year schedule shackles us with, don’t they? I certainly do. I also wondered about the children whose families simply aren’t able to afford an activity filled Summer. Each of our son’s scheduled activities are quite expensive and we’ve had to prioritize in order for them to be possible. Surely the children who don’t attempt camp aren’t doomed to a lackluster Summer, and just because our child is fortunate enough to live these experiences doesn’t guarantee a “Summer to Remember.”
Some may think we’re simply “keeping up with the Jones’; succumbing to the peer pressure my son presumably feels at school listening to all his friends discuss their Summer plans. What’s the alternative, though? How are we to avoid our son hearing his peers’ Summer plans? I’ve considered homeschooling in the past (for more than a few reason) and after conducting thorough research seriously considered homeschoolbase.com. However, after sitting with my thoughts for some time I’ve come to realize that whether our kids spend their Summers playing whiffle ball in the yard or chock full of structured activities, at the end of the day they’re all just kids who want to have the best Summer possible, and as long as my sanity and our bank account will allow, we’ll try to make that happen for our little guy!
About the Author
Katie is a Boston to Connecticut transplant trying to captain her and her family in new waters. She is supported by her loving husband Mike, and rambunctious son Jack, with extra amusement provided by their beloved chi-weenie Bailey. Katie was educated in the literary arts at Bridgewater State College and has been published on ScaryMommy.com and HerViewFromHome.com, where she is a regular contributor. Follow Katie on WordPress at: https://perfectlyimperfect32com.blog/ and twitter at: https://twitter.com/kaffe329.