We’re midway through our summer vacation and the word “bored” has come up countless times already. For a generation of kids that has summer camp choices out the wazoo, I say, “you don’t know what being bored looks like!”
Perhaps by virtue of growing up at the beach, or by being raised in a family without bucketloads of disposable income, my friends and I learned how to occupy our time in the summer without intervention from our parents. If we dared to utter the “b” word, our parents would open the screen door and tell us not to get hit by it on our way outside. They didn’t arrange playdates for us before kicking us into the outdoors, either. And we certainly didn’t have to wonder if any of our friends would be “available”. We just walked (or biked — gasp —by ourselves) around the neighborhood picking up friends along the way. We made our own fun. And it was fun. Continue reading
I’ve just come back from tucking my son, six, into bed. We snuggled up under his brown comforter, in his baseball-themed bedroom, and read stories about soup-making animals and art-making kids. When story time came to a close, I wrapped my arms around his small frame from behind and planted a kiss upon his cheek. Pulling him closer to me, I whispered in his ear, “You are my sweet, sweet, boy. I just love you so much.” “I love you too, Mama,” he replied. A few minutes passed and we just held onto each other there in silence. My busy boy—my soccer playing, basketball dribbling, lego-building boy, who always seems to be on the go—was here in my arms, quiet, letting me love on him. I pulled him closer, breathing him in. It was delicious.
Then out of nowhere he begins sobbing. My first thought was that something had happened at school earlier that day and he was reliving it now, in the silence, and struggling with whether and how to tell me what had had happened. He had more than once been on the receiving end of a certain bully’s ire last year, so, it was plausible.
“What’s wrong, Bud?,” I ask, “Did something happen today at school?” His small frame shakes as he cries harder.
“Something just popped into my head that you died.” Continue reading
The process of learning, at least for me, is often one fraught with extreme emotions. In the beginning, when I have no idea what the hell I’m doing, I feel overwhelmed, inadequate-—depressed even-—because the task or skill I’m attempting to master is just so far outside my current skill set. But then, there comes a day when you experience the proverbial “Aha moment” when you suddenly feel confident, euphoric, even, when you realize that you’ve mastered whatever skill you set out to learn. (You will recognize this moment by the sound of angels singing, the Heavens opening up—in short—you’ll be smacked upside the head by your own understanding.) But how, exactly, does one arrive at such a point? Continue reading
When I was a kid in the ’70s I was out of the house for much of the day, tooling around town on my cruiser bike, hanging out at the beach in the summer, digging up rat bones in the sand dunes, or bringing home sand sharks to swim in my friend Patty’s bathtub (yes, we really did that).
In the winter we’d be out all day building snow forts, having epic snowball battles, and wouldn’t be seen by parents until dinner unless we needed to use the bathroom, eat something, or couldn’t feel our feet anymore.
If I wanted to go to the park, I jumped on my bike, rode over to so-and-so’s house, and off we went wherever our wheels would take us. I never had, nor felt I needed, a chaperone. And I don’t remember ever feeling neglected, although this freewheeling childhood experience wasn’t without its “creepy incidents” that made me scream bloody murder and run like hell.
Looking back, I shudder at the close calls and feel reallllly lucky not to have ended up on the evening news. It was the ’70s. Parenting was different then. Kids were different then. And yet, I survived.
While I’ve found it difficult lately to sit down and write my 500 words about “anything” I can certainly start off a pretty impressive list (probably at least 500) of the reasons why this daily exercise has fallen off the side of my desk. But in the interests of time and space and not wanting to dissolve into a heaping pile of tears, I’ll stick to the top five.