19 July 2008


I’ve been pondering about how our summers have changed over the years. When my children were toddlers, we just stayed in the backyard in the wading pool, and sometimes went to the beach. But a beach with toddlers is just NOT fun, in my book. Really the only fun place to go was the McDonald’s playground, but those can be pretty disgusting.

When they were all in grade school, we had adventures. We swam (they learned) in the local pond, we hiked, we biked, we picked berries, we found bugs, and we ate lots of ice cream. Basically, we played. The house was cluttered and the lawn always died, but who cared? Life was good.

As my kids hit the teen years, they discovered that summer is HOT and HUMID and BUGGY. Somehow, those things didn’t matter (or perhaps didn’t exist?) when they were younger. The teens only wanted to go to the beach – not the pond, but the ocean, where they could lie on the sand or walk far away from me. So I found myself sitting in the wind alone, too hot to lie still, but with the water too frigid to swim in.

Ok seriously, I do like the beach, but you see my point?

Today, as my oldest is now in his twenties and the girls are right smack in the middle of their teens, they naturally want to do things with their friends. They want to walk aimlessly around town with their friends (usually aiming at the local Dairy Queen, but who wants to claim a plan?) If it’s too hot or raining, then the friends can be found through texting, online chats, or by playing games on line.

Today, when I suggest picking blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, they groan and roll their eyes. Today, when I suggest a bike ride on the trails through the woods, they tell me it’s too hot, or that their feet hurt. Today, when I suggest swimming at the local pond, they tell me it’s gross.

Of course, if a FRIEND suggests those things, they are ready, willing and able.

But I also have to admit that today, my interests have turned toward keeping the lawn alive (well, not really, but keeping the flowers alive, anyway) and doing summer projects. Where were all these projects when the children were small? Didn’t I care about planting flowers or which walls needed paint or which floors needed to be replaced? Actually, no. My projects back then were my kids.

Back then, when we were having all the fun, the summer days just ticked by at an even pace. Today they are screaming by with not enough time in the day, the week, or even the summer to finish everything.

Or maybe my list is just too long.

All that to say - for the past couple of weeks, my daughters have been out west, visiting my mom. She has been taking them to the pool, horseback riding, white water rafting, and countless other adventures (yeah, she’s a cool, youthful grandma). Their cousins are there, too, so everyone is having a grand time. Every day my mom phones to tell me how much fun my girls are and how cheerful and willing they are to do any and everything she suggests. They helped her move boxes and furniture for three hours – without a complaint, so she says. They even went to a museum – the last time I suggested a museum, they gave me 100 reasons why they did not need or want to go to a museum.

I asked her what she has done with my real children? Those people staying with her must be imposters.

And I am back here at home in Maine, trying to do about three month’s worth of projects in two week’s time. I’m about a month into it. They come home in four days. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be finished by then. But won’t it be wonderful – I’ll have THEM to help me.

Heh, heh, heh.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes


KathyLikesPink said...

Wow, you've got the place to yourself? I would be torn between wanting to DO things, and wanting to just curl up with a book and enjoy the silence and peace.

Beth Nixon said...

Love your explanation of the various cycles of summer entertainment! Makes me feel like I was right there with ya!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Yes, everyone always reports back to me about how pleasant and helpful and fun my teen daughter is around them. And I'm all like, "Who?"