I told my grandmother I was putting all four of my kids in camp for the summer. She was clearly aghast at my hands-off approach to parenting as she told me, ‘“When I had kids, I just took them to the park.” And all I could think was, “and then what?” When the snacks are done, the kids shoes are full of sand and the bickering begins, what do you do with the kids then? “I don’t know, somehow the kids just had what to do,” was the extent of her response.
I started envisioning myself doing this with my kids. This vision had a 1950’s filter on it where I am lounging on the bench, taking in the sun, every so often peering down to look on my beautifully behaved children. It should be noted for the purposes of this daydream, my hair is coiffed in a chic chignon, my complexion is flawless and naturally, I’m enviably thin. And just as I walk the line of insanity and seriously contemplate this as a reality, I blessfully come to my senses.
I envision the reality as it will actually transpire: four kids walking to the park declaring their famished state before even crossing the street; my kids doing some form of playing which is really a cross between laughing and screaming at one another in alternating sequences. All the while I am perched on the bench, hunched over scrolling through Instagram wondering where all these other moms are creating these #parkmemories when I’m just trying to make sure my kids aren’t abducted.
I know I know, life was somehow simpler back then. We didn’t have the worries and concerns we have today and the media wasn’t yet using fear mongering as bait for ratings. And yes, we can put our hands in our pleated pant front pockets and say, “kids these days have no patience when everything around them is always flashing and changing and upgrading.” And we would be right, but we are no better than our children. We aren’t any more patient than they are.
Summer isn’t about wishing for what was, but rather it’s about accepting what is.
The reality is that our kids need structure. They need programming and we as parents need to not be in charge of this beyond a paycheck to the camp. I know there are people who do mommy camp and to them I’m not sure what to say because, truthfully I’m not sure they’re human. They are likely angelic anomalies of the human race. But to the rest of us, perhaps learning patience is what we all need over summer. Enjoying the long days, enjoying the days our kids are in camp and mostly enjoying our kids when they’re not in camp.