The other evening while watching my cousins softball game (one of the three teams she is on this summer) I made the mistake of asking my grandma how another cousin was spending her summer. I should have known better. My grandmother went into a diatribe about how this 12 year old was spending the summer just hanging out, not doing anything in particular. Unbeknownst to me this is a very touchy subject. Heaven forbid a child not have every moment of her day planned out for her.Heaven forbid a kid be allowed to be a kid.
This conversation made me think about my own childhood.
My friends and I ran wild for three long, completely unstructured months. The whole town was our playground. My brother and I would leave the house in the morning and often not return home until dinner time. We rode our bikes from one end of town to the other and everywhere in between. My friends and I played kickball in the middle of the street, occasionally bouncing a ball off a parked car. When we tired of that we would go to the library or to the cemetery, where we made up stories about the lives of the people whose gravestones we casually lounged around on. Lunch was eaten at whatever friends house we happened to be at the time — usually peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese. Every mother in the neighborhood always had an endless supply of either with a loaf or two of bread made from the local bakery.
Our imaginations ran as wild as we did. We went on safari’s trudging though overgrown grass and bushes of vacant houses. We were tightrope walkers gingerly walking along the high wall on the backside of the elementary school. Sometimes we hung out on the walkway over the state route , overlooking the football stadium watching the high school boys practice plays and whatnot for the upcoming season. Sometimes we would ride our bikes uptown to the Newstand, which didn’t sell newspapers or magazines but rather had the best chocolate peanut butter ice cream around. After ambling home and hastily scarfing down dinner, we would find our friends again playing kick the can in uneven alleys until the street lights came on. After the street lights came on we usually scattered about going back to our respective homes. Sometimes a few friends and I would sit out on a deck or front porch with citronella candles that never quite kept the bugs away.
I loved having the days to do whatever I wanted. No one thought there was anything wrong with just doing as we wanted, going from here or there. We didn’t have music lessons or traveling sports teams. Most parents worked and we kids survived just fine. We defined the lazy days of summer. We were just kids, and it suited us just fine.
How did you spend your summers as a child?