I know that I am lucky about the summers I spent as a child, and I thank God, and Dr. Bob (my dad) often for how easy I had it. We always went on a family vacation. As we got older, we were all allowed to bring a friend. Some vacations, like Cancun, were a huge success, while others, like any of the vacations where we drove, were awful. So we had the family vacation, that only occasionally resembled the Griswolds. I was in Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Holy Lands before the age of 10. Again, probably not great now, as I remember very little. We went to the 1984 Olympics, and Mary Lou Retton became my hero. I remember not minding family visits, thinking my older cousins were cool. So those were the vacations.
The time at home was a blast too. When we were younger, living in a particular neighborhood, all the kids hung around outside at night. We played Kick the Can and Hide and Seek (which was awesome, because we lived in a huge wooded area). I remember the entire neighborhood, parents included, coming out to cheer my brother on as he learned to ride a bike on our court. It must have felt great for him. These summer nights were fantastic. I'm sure our parents had cocktails, as we caught lightning bugs. There weren't really kids my age in that neighborhood, but I loved it still, as I tried my best to be included with the older kids.
We moved to a newer part of Bettendorf, Iowa when I was 8. I'm sure that you're laughing your ass off right now, but it's true-it was beautiful. The best part about it was there were lots of friends for all three of us. The girl across the street became one of my best friends for years. We were further out of town, so seeing our other friends was difficult, but we lived on a golf course. When I was elementary school age, we would get up and walk to the club. We started with tennis lessons, then had golf lessons, followed by swimming lessons/swim team. We ate lunch at the snack bar, swam the rest of the day, and made it home in time for dinner, exhausted and sunburned.
Obviously, we don't allow our children to get burnt to a crisp like our parents did, although I was glad that despite the sunblock, C. and H. have a bit if color as they return to school.
I think another major change is that most of us have households where both parents work. I think that the huge family vacation, for most of us, is a thing of the past. C. and H. went to camp for almost the entire summer. They're still too young for sleep away camp, but they had fun for what it was. I will admit, that while I was glad that C. had some reading/writing time at his district run camp, I really wish he had spent more time outside playing kickball. He did have great swimming time though. H. had a blast at his camp, but I can say, at the age of 4, I have no idea what he did. He'll sing a song every once in a while, and he comes home rosy cheeked, filthy and happy. I guess that's how we can gage whether or not we got our money's worth.
If they had stayed home, we couldn't offer them a country club. In the last few weeks of summer, I've sent them outside, but none of the other kids are out until evening. The 8 year old girl who lives behind us wants the boys to bring their Nintendo DS's to the fence to play. How is that fun? It probably is for them, but I won't have it.
I realize that times have changed, but I refuse to let real soccer or tennis be replaced by the Wii versions. Luckily, my boys loved their week of soccer camp, and can't wait to start league play next week.
I'm not against the Wii at all, but you can't replace going to the Olympics with the Mario/Sonic version. Ever.