How Summers have Changed for Kids

by | Jun 8, 2014

When I was a kid, back in what feels like the Mesozoic era, summer was always an excellent time to relax and be a kid.

I could get up in the morning, hop on my bike, ride to the local playground and spend the entire day there. I would start the morning with a bit of knock hockey. I would follow that with playing on the swings, where I would go as high as I could only to jump off and roll! This would be a great warm-up for the foursquare contest that would close out the morning.

After lunch (they’d cook hot dogs at the park served with Kool-Aid for about 25 cents) every day there was the softball game. Loved that! Then, I could climb some trees picking crab apples to snack on before coming home for a cookout with some neighbors. If I were super lucky, the ice cream man would come around, and I’d twist mom and dad’s arm to buy me a Fudgesicle. Then, meeting other kids at the ice cream truck, we’d organize an impromptu game of kick the can, hiding all over the neighborhood.

Those were the days, right?

As we spent this weekend looking over the plans we have for our 12-year-old this summer I was struck by just how much different what he has is.

My summer was characterized by:

  • No school
  • Unstructured time
  • Unsupervised time

His summers:

  • Supplementing school with learning activities
  • Camps, clinics, trips – almost every moment is scheduled
  • Supervision everywhere

The summer day of my youth would be impossible for our son to recreate today.

First, our son has no time! Almost every day is spoken for with some type of commitment that will help him develop.  In our neighborhood, anything other than that would be some type of negligence!
Second, knock hockey, four square, and jumping off swings are boring and dull compared to other choices he has in his life. PS3 games, texting and snap chat on his iPhone, and YouTube videos by internet celebrities trump such silly pastimes as playground games and team sports.

Is this some kind of problem that needs to be solved? I don’t think so. Time marches on, and things change. I get it.

I just miss the ice cream man.

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