The other day, as I stretched out on my backyard lawn chair, the warmth of the sun beamed down on my face.
I closed my eyes to take it all in and suddenly, I was transported to a simpler, easier, more carefree time.
I heard screeching and laughing. I heard the thunder of bare feet chasing other bare feet through the yard.
I felt a splash of ice cold water on my arm and heard the squeal of delight from the child at the end of the hose.
I saw popsicles - lots of popsicles - fruity and juicy and swimming in sugar. I saw kids with lips stained blue and red and purple slurping up every last drop of their Fla-Vor-Ice.
I saw kids running through the backyard sprinklers.
Heard them playing hide and seek.
They’d been on bike rides through the neighborhood and now bikes were littered across the lawn.
They were lost in some wild, imaginative fun and I didn’t dare interrupt them.
How could this be?
I was somehow staring straight into the summers of my youth.
And I was also staring at my own sweaty, sun-kissed children.
I went inside and saw the remnants of their lunches- empty potato chip bags, half eaten sleeves of Saltines, Little Debbie wrappers, and soft drink cans snuck from the fridge.
I smiled. And then I laughed. In spite of it all, 2020 had inadvertently given my children a pretty rad gift: A summer totally the same as the ones I had growing up.
Waking up and making toast or cereal for breakfast on their own
Watching a few hours of dumb cartoons on t.v.
Slow, nowhere to go, lazy days
Few organized activities and sports but plenty of pick-up games of four square and HORSE in the driveway
Playing outside all day mostly unsupervised
Comfy mismatched clothes
Freedom to explore and wander and get scrapes and bruises
Sweaty faces and disgustingly dirty feet
Room to be bored
Inventing clever games and finding new ways to entertain each other
Only coming inside for food or when they hear their names being called
Ice cream from the ice cream man (well, the food truck)
Evening family walks
Chasing lightening bugs and swatting mosquitoes in the twilight
Playing the Nintendo (well, the Switch) for hours on end
Flashlight tag in the dark
Getting lost in a book before bed
In a world that thrives on chaos and stress and wants us to stay on the go go go, it’s pretty amazing to have low key, carefree, easy days fall straight into our laps.
Let’s take advantage of this time and show our kids just how cool the hot summer can be when there’s literally nothing to do.
Let’s let their imaginations run free. Let them invent their own fun. Give them space to explore. Let them fend for themselves for a meal or two.
Let’s embrace and enjoy the slow, nowhere to go with them.
Let’s pull up a front row lawn chair to the beauty and magic that awaits a simple summer such as this. It’ll be all that and a bag of chips for sure.
Don’t forget the popsicles!