Publication: Freedom — OCR - Placentia News-Times; Date:July 7, 2017; Section: News; Page Number: 3
WHAT A DAY
Summer, like the times, is a changin’
Summer used to be an idyllic time of justified laziness. Should I go find my friends for a game of tag, or find a shady spot and read a book? The possibilities were infinite, and they were all mine, or at least they felt that way.
And then I became an adult and summer was another, hotter season of going to work, and doing laundry.
When Marcus started school, I had flashbacks to those wonderful times. I thought we could go to the park, to museums, or just happily do nothing. It was a sweet dream.
The first problem I encountered was that summer recess was now short. When I was a kid, we began school after Labor Day and ended before Memorial Day. Marcus typically started school sometime in August and was released around mid-June. Basically, he had July, with some spillover.
This was not a bad thing, since I was a working mom. Raytheon was not going to give me an entire summer off to hang out with my child. Marcus had to be somewhere else, doing something else, while I slaved away over a hot computer.
I enrolled him in summer camps, doing everything from art to sports to science. He learned to fire pottery, build a robot, and play roller hockey. Most of these camps were a week long, so I had to keep track of where he was supposed to be at any given time.
Being an engineer, this meant a spreadsheet.
August was a tricky month. The companies hosting summer camps calculated that August was their lowest performing month, so they offered less. They obviously didn’t consult me, or what I suspect are hundreds of working moms and dads out there who still need August activities.
Thankfully, Morse Elementary School began their daycare a week early, or Dale and I would have been scrambling to adjust our schedules.
As I let go of my summer dreams and embraced reality, I knew that Marcus may not have enjoyed even one month of doing nothing. We didn’t have any kids his age in the neighborhood, and he had no siblings to play with.
Playing is different, too, these days. In my youth, I hit the door after breakfast and often didn’t come home until dusk. My friends and I drifted into backyards, rode our bikes up and down the street, and sometimes investigated the cornfield on the corner, even though we’d been told not to.
I’m fairly certain my mom had no idea where I was, but could still reach me the old-fashioned way—by standing on the front steps and calling my name. I could hear her from two blocks away.
There was no way for me to let Marcus have that kind of freedom, even if he had a dozen friends in our neighborhood. We have been warned too well, and now we know too much.
I sometimes feel badly that my son didn’t get to experience those kinds of summers, and asked him about it once. He responded that he couldn’t miss what he didn’t know, and that he was pretty happy doing whatever we signed him up to do. His only regret came when he graduated from college.
“I thought I’d have a little time to rest before I had to adult,” he told me.
Summer or winter, I think we can all agree on that.
Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman. E-mail her at [email protected].