Susie Beaty Green holds a degree in English from the University of San Diego. She lives with her husband, their two daughters and their pets in a small beach community in California. Her first novel, Circle The Date is now available at Amazon.com
While having coffee/reading the paper with my husband, I stumbled upon a sentence written by James Herbert that has been rolling around on my tongue all day.
"We live in a coldly rational age, where every task is tallied, every last hour is accounted for............."
Although Mr. Hubert writes this in prelude to a theatre review in the San Diego Union Tribune, I haven't been able to shake the notion of how much this concept applies to how we raise our children today. Every last minute is accounted for whether it be with sports commitments, academic study (every moment from day one of kindergarten leading up to the mother of all standardized tests, the all important SAT), or a wide variety of other valuable, yet time consuming, activities. I have to wonder where the “care free days of summer” have gone and if this generation will ever connect with that Americana version of summertime.
My challenge to both myself and to you, Cheryl’s readers, is this: Schedule some days to schedule nothing. Sometimes I literally have to put a red X on my calendar as a visual reminder to myself that specific days are off limits for any lessons, tutoring, or appointments. If I'm really feeling parentally bold, I even declare the day a "no screen day" which speaks to screens both big and small -- the television to the iPad to the iPhone, etc.
Provide a few props like paint and canvases, classical music, plastic wear that can be used to make mud pies in the garden, ingredients for making pizza or cookies, a new Frisbee, bottles of bubbles or even some 'old fashioned' game they have never heard of like Jacks or Pick up Sticks and simply see what happens. In my house I find that these days usually result in the production of dozens of cookies and often a self choreographed dance or self-written play that is preformed for us, complete with home made tickets and popcorn or elaborate 'forts' engineered via moving every piece of furniture in the house and using every bed sheet too. I will admit, my imperfections do sometimes flare when I realize the loads of laundry I am facing but I try to swallow the inconvenience factor and relish the knowledge that imagination is at work in my home and these moments are fleeting and memorable.
Give it a try and report back. I am anxious to know what fun, creative, even genius, non-structured activities come out of your non-scheduled, carefree days of summer.
Susie Beaty Green