We are typical parents of the new millennium – overscheduled, overbusy and constantly on the move. With the exception of the first few weeks of my kids’ lives, practically every weekend has been pre-scheduled with some activity – meetings, ballet classes, birthday parties, playdates, errands. Before kids, I would feel guilty if my weekends weren’t filled with something “productive.” With kids, I feel guilty if my kids aren’t being stimulated with toys, books or some sort of activity. Today was one of those rare days where we didn’t have anywhere to go or anything to do, and we did just that – nothing. And despite doing nothing, my kids went to sleep tonight smiling and content.
When did being a kid change to the point where days are spent in constant motion? My best childhood memories are of lazy summer days when I would ride my banana-seat bike (a Huffy – Cactus Rose) down to the murky creek where my friends and I would collect tadpoles and frogs in old pickle jars. Sometimes we’d sit on top of the giant boulder in front of my house and watch our older brothers play baseball with dead tennis balls that we had collected from the grassy area near the local tennis courts. We’d wear our swimsuits all day, never wore shoes all summer, and perpetually had popsicle-stained mouths. We were kids with nothing to do but play and be kids.
My kids are not yet at the bike-riding, tadpole-collecting age. Instead, our day started with a little pillow talk (I settled in on the spare bed in their room when they woke up and we laid in the dark talking about random stuff). Then we got up and went for a run together which meant that Momma pushed them in the double stroller while they enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Norwalk River trail. After our run, we spent time digging in the sand at the local park next to the running trail, then went home for a hearty lunch of bagel pizzas and cold red grapes. We had a long nap together, worn out by the heat of the morning sun and when we woke up, I took them barefoot into the backyard where the sprinkler had already been set up. We spent the rest of the afternoon under the cool spray of the sprinkler; rock-hopping, collecting pretty pebbles, making up silly songs and, of course, eating popsicles. Forever burned into my memory will be the high-pitched giggles and wide smiles of my giddy kids, accompanied by the rhythmic chatter of the sprinkler in the background. I could see it in their faces and hear it in their voices – my kids were enjoying their lazy summer day in the same way that I did as a child.
We owe it to our kids to slow down and let them enjoy the simple things that our summer memories were made of so that they can make summer memories of their own. They don’t need constant stimulation, excitement and movement – at this age, all they really want is to take in the world around them and spend quality time with Mom and Dad.
This evening as Bubba was off with Dad feeding the goldfish, Lady B and I were laying on the bed nose-to-nose.
“Mommy?” she said.
“Yes, Baby Girl?”
“I no wanna go to sleep.”
“Why? Is it because you had so much fun today?”
“Um-hmm,” she hummed as she nodded her head.
“You go to sleep and I promise that when you wake up, we will have fun again,” I assured her.
“Aw-right,” she responded as she sighed deeply while closing her eyes. After a few moments of silence, she opened her eyes again, “Mommy?”
“Yes, Baby Girl?”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too,” I responded, kissing her on her forehead while she snuggled in closer.
Tonight, I tucked my kids in, content in the fact that my children will be going to bed dreaming of the little things that will make their summer memories last forever. It’s the simple things that really make a difference…