The Wider Angle / Well Rounded

This week’s issue of The Wider Angle is oh-so-timely since I’ve been struggling myself with the coordination of the summer schedule.  Juggling camps, babysitters, my work schedule, Jeff’s travel schedule – it’s all so overwhelming.  I have also found that the inconsistent schedule (or complete lack there of) will make my kids just as crazy as it makes me.  Being an only child, I’m challenged with understanding and accepting the normal sibling relationship (fighting over toys, doing things JUST to annoy the other, being gross just to make the other laugh, etc).  I’m growing to love this silly side, and I have to bite my tongue sometimes to keep from squelching what is simply “fun” to them, although annoying to me.  And when left to their own devices, Jake and Kylie often surprise me with adorable creations (like mega-block monsters) and a healthy dose of love for one another.


It’s that time of year again, when school draws to a close along with after-school activities. And I draw a huge sigh of relief. Maybe it’s the extra pressure of attempting to balance the baby’s sleeping schedule with the older kids’ many extra-curriculars, but I am looking forward more than ever to a freer schedule this summer. Ahhh, relaxed mornings and days filled with unscripted summer fun.

Wait, scratch that. Daily swim team practice starts today. Piano lessons will continue indefinitely. And Clare and Danny are signed up for separate summer camps, which naturally require separate driving trips. That’s all before we hit the road for our annual Summer Grandparent Tour. Hmmm. If I am so looking forward to the end of school, dance, and soccer, why do I feel so compelled to sign them up for so many activities in the summer? Am I afraid of my own children??

Well, yes. Who isn’t, at least once in a while? I ardently believe that I have good children, but they’re not perfect. They play well together or keep themselves independently occupied much of the time. But it’s that sliver of time when boredom strikes that I am ever vigilant against! So I sign them up for things, telling myself that it’s a great way to expose them to different activities, ideas, and cultures and build character.

Thinking back to my own childhood summers, I’m fairly certain that I didn’t do a single week of summer camp. To be fair, I went on a Summer Grandparent Tour each year, as well as some other travel. But I also had parents who believed it was my responsibility to figure out what to do on an average summer day. And you know what? I did. I’m sure I spent some amount of time being bored, but what better way to generate excitement for a new school year? I also swam, read, and spent endless hours with my still-best friend (29 years and going strong!).

So as tempted as I am to click on the latest Groupon offering a deal on more summer camp, I’m going to resist. Instead, I will give my kids a bit more of my time and attention, and I’m also going to leave them to their own devices. I suspect we’ll all wind up building some character.

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by Crystal

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