12 June 2009

Guest post: Childhood summers

By: Jessica B.

This guest post comes from Mandy at Just A Small Town Girl. Mandy is one of my favorite bloggers who writes the some of the most thoughtful and memorable posts in my Reader. I love her style and am thrilled that she’s guest blogging for me! Enjoy!

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?


  1. Caz says:

    I love this guest post! I always had a bit of a mix of summers.

    One or two weeks every summer would be a sleep-away or day camp and sometimes we'd go to the library or on play dates with friends in other towns. But most of the time it was riding bikes, playing in the pond, building forts, trampolines and only coming back for lunch or dinner. I miss neighbourhood kids meeting up to play after dinner and I definitely think it's something I want my kids to experience.

  2. LiLu says:

    Most of my summers were spent on my grandparents' farm, making forts out of bales of hay and catching fireflies with my sister…

    How do I get back there, again?

  3. Auburn Kat says:

    I always spent my summers oustide either in our pool, at one of my friends houses, on my bike, etc. We would also go camping in the adirondacks and head to the beach as well. We would also spend most of the days at our grandparents houses, my cousin who grew up in NYC would also come and spend a portion of the summer with us. Gosh, I miss those carefree days!

  4. Jenn says:

    love this – that is EXACTLY how i spent my summers too. even the ending the evening by playing kick the can until we heard our dad calling our names to come inside once it got dark. parents had it so easy back then – they had the whole day off while the kids ran around. not like parents today who are expected to shuttle their kids to 40000 different activities. sheesh! :)

  5. Shawna says:

    I feel that you were lucky because your town was safe and small enough that you could go around alone and see all of your friends. I live in a bigger, not-so-bike friendly area, so naturally my summer days were always planned out. Swim lessons here, theater practices with my friends there… It all had to be planned because of car rides and traffic!

    Shawna's Study Abroad

  6. wekeepsaying says:

    yes to all of this! my neighbor, my brother and i used to play "lion king" between our yards. i'm not sure how that worked exactly, but at the time it made perfect sense.

    then there was "fishing" in the ditch that ran behind our property and into the woods. we sat on the little foot bridge that crossed over it and poked sticks into the leaves that were floating along on the little brook, then we'd fling them up on the bridge like they were alive.

    and my mom hated when we played soccer in the front yard because she planted hostas around all the trees and we inevitably ruined every one of them…

    god i miss being a kid…I HATE BEING OLD!

  7. Ali says:

    Oh WOW, this post just brought me waaay back. I lived in a cul-de-sac with lots of other kids and we did the same kind of stuff! I miss those days SO much – especially now that it's summer. Sigh…

  8. i love this!!

    i spent my childhood playing outside, CONSTANTLY. kickball, handball (things with balls), riding my bike, playing "war" and having lemonade stands all the time.

    things were so much simpler then.

  9. StartingOver@28 says:

    Most summers were spent on the back of my pony or horse with an occassional softball game thrown in. This lasted until about age twelve and recurred on and off until 16. Other years were spent on a competitive volleyball with a good dose of laying by the pool. Let kids be kids. I would go back if I could. In fact, I try every weekend I can!

  10. luckygirl says:

    i was sort of one of those busy kids some summers – dance classes, gymnastics, tee ball, day camp, art classes, swim lessons and so on. but i never noticed that i was busy and i still had plenty of time for hanging out with friends, family vacations and planning in my big back yard.

  11. looking4#3 says:

    I spent my summer at our summer house. Leaving at first light, not going home til just before dark. Swimming, dance practice, story time under the big tree, beach, riding bikes and walking everywhere under the sun. Imagination had no limits, fun was in everyday, safety was a given!!! Those were the days….

  12. MeLaNiE says:

    I spent my summers playing in the neighborhood, riding bikes, going to my grandparents, and oh how I wish I could be a kid again :)

  13. nory says:

    Just last week I commented to my father how I miss the age of innocence and three long months of doing NOTHING. I mean, sure, we did somethings, but the biggest worries were: would it rain? could we sleepover? when could I rent another movie? I miss summer and being lazy. I think if we all had three months (hell, even one) a year to relax, America would be a lot better off!

  14. Kyla Roma says:

    Love, Love, Love this guest post. Beautifully done Mandy!

    I totally agree with you – our whole lives are structured activities, just having fun? That's what kids should be doing!! I spent my summers riding horses at my parents farm, climbing huge piles of hay bales and running around our 20 acre property. My neighbors across the road had a real farm with goats and ducks and donkeys so a lot of time was spent playing with them. Plus? They had a trampoline. Total win!