Scary Mommy got it right. In the post ’10 Ways to Give Your Kid a 1970’s Kind of Summer’ by Melissa L. Felton they called it. Every. Single. Thing. Apart from number 4 and 5, because my children are too young. But apart from that. Rock on.
I’ve written about this before in Lazy Pig. The idea that an endless search for stimulating activities and mind-developing, memory-making, instagram-worthy endeavours, might in fact be robbing our children of the one thing they need the most. The need to weave, out of the everyday, the ordinary, the mundane, something magic.
For weeks now, everywhere we go, we are subjected to a soundtrack of BUB.1’s whine “I want to go home.” We could take him to the beach, Legoland, the moon, he’d want to go home. And that’s flattering and it’s fine. So this half term, we have spent half the week playing with his cousins near Manchester and the second half flopping around the house. Literally, ricocheting from one meal to the next, from fighting to laughing, TV on, back door open, toys strewn, socks OFF.
All I have heard is squeals of laughter. No one has moaned, complained or wished they were somewhere else. Today, Sunday, the last day of the break, they didn’t even change out of their pyjamas. BUB.2 wandered around with a very 1970s blackcurrant squash moustache for much of the day. We caught up with homework, we managed to get the stuff in the loft that has been clogging up a bedroom for weeks, WW bought a drill, we pottered. We caught our breaths.
There have been highs (butterflies emerging from their cocoons – thank you Insect Lore), and there have been lows (many many many many many spilled drinks).
For much of the week, we are all apart. One at school, one at preschool, one at work. Sometimes I don’t want to spend this precious time together packing bags, driving, finding toilets, looking for change for parking, saying over and over again “Come on, we can go home soon, just try to enjoy yourself. OK, WHO WANTS AN ICE CREAM?”
One of my happiest childhood memories is lying in the garden with my Dad, side by side on our sun loungers, chatting about the universe. And making rose-petal perfume with my friend Sarah. Bouncing a ball against a wall. Riding my bike around and around the same bit of path. I don’t remember feeling like I was missing anything.
Whenever I try to spoon feed my children “fun” activities, they tend to look at me like I’m insane. But watch for 30 seconds while they play with some friends their own age (or not even their own age, or not even humans, sometimes just a bug on the path) and you see them get lost in their own world. It is THE world. This is a world you cannot create for them, or buy tickets for, but one into which you must just gently shove them.
Earlier today we were talking about going back to school tomorrow and BUB.2, my preschooler, said “I don’t want to, I like staying home best,” to which I replied “But you’ll have fun with your friends and anyway I’ll pick you up at 3 o’clock!” His heartbreaking response was: “Can you pick me up at zero o’clock instead Mummy?”
So over the summer, when I see all the posts about fun activities and ideas to keep the kids amused, I’ll just sling them my old rusty muffin tin and tell them to make mud pies while I watch from the open back door, clutching a cider ice lolly.