I don’t get it. When I was a kid I remember summer as the time when I was up and out of the house every morning, cruising on my bike to my pal Mitchell’s house about 2/3 mile away, or, later, my friend Ivan’s house to get into some trouble or other (if one or the other of us wasn’t working). Sometimes they’d come over to my house and we’d spend the day building strange gizmos to take over the world, like when Ivan and I were obsessed with CB radios and jury-rigged car units with 110-12volt transformers so we could chat any time we wanted house-to-house, even though we lived about a mile apart.
I also remember tearing apart a telephone and figuring out how to hook it up to my stereo so that I had a serious speakerphone system. Of course, the people on the other end couldn’t hear me if I didn’t pick up the handset since I never could quite figure out the impedance mismatch of my Radio Shack microphone and the two wires coming out of the eviscerated green princess phone I’d dissected.
Summer, however, was a time to play, to do stuff and to get out and find things to do.
This summer really highlights how things seem to have changed, at least with my kids. Now if I don’t come up with things for us to do, they seem to sink into sloth, expecting me to entertain them, engage them or at least let them spend (read “waste”) hours and hours on computer, video and even iPhone games.
By mutual consent, my ex and I are not enthused about our children being too absorbed in the world of digital media, whether it be a movie, video games or related. In fact, they’ve long since had their Nintendo DS units confiscated and put away after they were sneaking them under their pillows and playing for hours late at night instead of sleeping. Not a huge problem, except lack of sleep = cranky = tougher time for us parents.
During the school year we’re much more strict about no video games, no movies, no computer time, etc, partially because that’s an expectation set by our children being at a Waldorf school and partially because we really want them to focus on their studies and healthier and more creative outlets.
Summertime has expanded their horizons: Linda and I both have Nintendo Wii devices (which are amazingly fun and cool) but she finds that they’re more difficult with her after they’ve played so she’s just shut hers down completely. I have an agreement with the kids that they earn an hour/week of Wii time by doing chores and being cooperative, and that’s been working really well, to my relief. Heck, I enjoy watching them play too!
Movies are definitely showing up too, and in fact A-, 12, and G-, 9, have now both as of the last week made it into a movie theater and seen their first movie: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, which they both enjoyed a great deal (read my review here: Review: “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”).
What’s puzzling me, and what makes me wonder if it’s just the result of us going from one household to two, is that when we’re not playing video games or watching movies or similar, my kids seem to have lost the desire to meet up with their buddies and do stuff that doesn’t involve Mom or Dad being the social director.
Of course, there are summer camps. Holy cow, there are summer camps. From specific sports to specific hobbies to just about everything else I can imagine, there are more ways to spend our money during the summer having the kids occupied than I could ever have imagined. But, man, is it expensive with three of ’em to enroll.
I never had this issue as a kid as far as I can recall.
So what’s the story? Are you finding your kids are less likely to meet up with friends on a frequent basis, and if so, what’s your theory about why that’s happening?
Me? I’m just trying not to go batty this summer!