A long, hot summer

summertimeWhen I was growing up in Eastern Tennessee, summer was an endless stretch of nothingness. There were no reading lists or science camps or enrichment activities. There was only occasionally adult supervision.

My friends and I were like a pack of wild dogs tearing through the neighborhood, entertaining ourselves by running through the neighbor’s sprinkler or hanging upside-down from a tree or riding bikes until somebody broke something, usually a bone. We watched Phil Donahue and sucked on homemade popsicles and plucked fat, juicy ticks off our dog and squashed them with bricks. I know, disgusting. Boredom makes you do strange things, but that’s my point. We were bored to death

Fast-forward to 2013. My kids’ summers have already been planned and paid for, and it’s only March. Their summer will span multiple continents and garner them more than 20,000 Delta points. They will bike through Dutch fields and camp in the Appalachians and swim in the Atlantic. My daughter will spend a month at camp — a month!  She will have exactly three days at home.

Of course they won’t be bored. They won’t have time to be.

Summer sure has changed, but I’m not convinced it’s for the better. Sure, my kids get to travel to faraway, exotic places, but beyond that, am I doing them any favors? Will my children ever learn to entertain themselves without an AmEx and a passport? To find joy in a field of wild berries, or fun in a moss-filled creek? I sure hope so.

Remember when the first day of school was something to look forward to?

I do.

About Kimberly S. Belle

Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and fundraising for various nonprofits. She's the author of two novels, THE LAST BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KimberlyBelleBooks), Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or via her website at www.kimberlybellebooks.com.

Posted on March 22, 2013, in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I hear you, Kimberle. My daughter keeps asking if I signed her up for camp yet and she has a laundry list of things to do this summer. I went to camp once (not once per summer) and prowled the neighborhood motivated by boredom. Those were some of the best times of my life. I do worry that our kids are missing those things, but I swear they’d sit on the curb and play with their phones if they had nothing else to do! I guess I’d better go ahead and sign her up…

    • Kimberle Swaak

      You’re right, Christy. Times have changed and all the electronics make it too easy to spend all day on phones, iPads, computers, etc. For us adults as well as our kids!

  2. Oh man, you’ve hit a chord with me, Kimberle. Neither of my kids look forward to summer because their friends don’t live across the street like they did in my day, and they need to be entertained every second of the day. I used to pick pincher bugs (earwigs we called them) out of telephone poles and squish them to have fun! Weird, I know, but that’s what we all did. I don’t think kids have a clue how to entertain themselves though my son and his pals play basketball for hours in the heat or cold. That’s cool.

  3. Our boys once spent their summer vacation helping us build a house. Of course they were bored, because they had to hang around mom & dad, but they learned a lot of useful things during those summer months. It was quite possibly the most real-life educational summer they ever spent … and they couldn’t wait for school to rescue them from all of the hard labour. 🙂

    • Kimberle Swaak

      Can you send them over to our house this summer? I’ve got plenty of work for them to do, and I promise I’ll send them home DYING to go back to school. 😉

  4. Kimberle, I remember hanging out at the base pool all day, the life guards as our only babysitters. We’d also ride our bikes down long dirt roads to the penny candy store and be gone for hours followed by a pack of kids playing Manhunt long in to the night. Back then, we read books because they were fun, not because we had a reading list. Good times!

  5. I wish I could return to a little time from the summers I remember, which were much like your own. 🙂

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