Summer’s basically here. Pinterest pages, Facebook feeds, and family magazine features are loaded up with all the fun-filled activities you should do with your kids this summer.
AS.IF. As if we need more activities. MORE, I say!
As if I am sitting here—OK, really lying here in my end-of-school year coma—thinking, “OMG! I CANNOT wait to tackle that homemade moon sand recipe. We will dye ourselves with the skin of organic vegetables, then shape our homemade sand into a perfect replica of the Millennium Falcon! ” Or, “Why yes, I am going to schlep four kids to that new science museum two hours away where we will eagerly wander through the exhibits, each completing the 10-page scavenger hunt I created last night. Then we will come home and ‘discuss’ at great length the scientific theories we learned, because—brace yourself—what if we don’t keep our minds active ALL summer?”
GASP! “Wait, hold it! We must, just MUST go to the dollar store and buy 125 pool noodles to construct a backyard water park! We will invite the neighborhood kids over, serve vegan popsicles, watermelon chunks cut out like dolphins, and a crudité platter shaped like a palm tree. And what summer pool party would be complete without nitrate-, skin-, meat-, additive- and taste-free hot dogs on gluten-free buns covered in artisanal ketchup?”
I’m done. Sort of like I how I was done with the school year, but I am already done with summer. And by “done,” I mean I am done with all the forced smile-inducing, über-planned and supervised over-the-top summer life experiences I am supposed to provide for my kids. You know what I want my kids to experience this summer? The same type of summer I would have experienced in the late 1970s. The exact same one. I survived it, and they will too. As a matter of fact, it must have been pretty memorable, because 30 years later I can tell you exactly what it entailed. It entailed FUN. Fun we made all on our own. What a concept.
I present you with my top ways to give your kids a 1970s kind of summer.
Make them play outside. Like all day. All. Damn. Day. Hot? Drink from the hose. Run through the sprinklers. Swim in the pool until your hair feels like straw and turns green, and the bottoms of your feet are calloused from the bottom of the pool. Search for ladybugs, play hide ‘n’ seek between the houses, run down the street gutters after a rain storm. Read under a tree. I hear this lady named Judy Blume writes good stuff.
Let them watch TV. Plenty of it. But only the TV Land channel. I want my kids to watch The Love Boat, The Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, Charlie’s Angels, My Three Sons, The Bionic Man, The $100,000 Pyramid, and my favorite, Hart to Hart. Seriously, what little girl in the late ’70s didn’t want to be an amateur detective married to the CEO of Hart Industries, driving around in a yellow Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster, while sporting a matching lilac pant suit and perfectly-coiffed, butterfly-winged, wavy brown hair?
Let them eat whatever they want, and/or whatever you can find. There will be no more pantries full of organic vegetable chips and non-GMO graham crackers. No more refrigerators full of anti-pesticide fruit, free range eggs and cold-pressed juice. This will be the summer of Frito-Lay and Red Dye #5. I want to see my kids’ reaction when I tear open a tiny envelope of cherry Kool-Aid, sprinkle it into a BPA-laden plastic pitcher, dump four cups of regular, granulated, white and maybe even generic sugar (not raw, stevia, or agave), then add water from the tap and voilà! You are hydrated! I will be over here drinking a Tab. Lunch will be fried bologna and a blue can of Planter’s Cheese Balls, and for dinner we will pile in the car and go pick up a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a styrofoam quart of mashed potatoes, and OMG, dessert will be pineapple upside-down cake! Made from canned pineapples in … wait for it … syrup!
Send them to the movies for the entire day. Drop them off around 11 and pick them up for dinner. It’s real simple. You sneak from one theater to the next. Nobody cares.
Have them spend three nights in a row at their best friend’s house. No, you don’t have to call to check in every hour. And yes, it’s totally OK that the parents will be at work and nobody will be home all day. It will give you plenty of time for #1, #2, and #3.
Make stuff, like from stuff they find. No trips to Hobby Lobby for pre-cut, pre-stuck, pre-fabricated crafts. They should find crap in the garage and assemble it into something they can play with. No, they can’t Google how to do it. Ropes are fun.
Have them put on a talent show. A real, genuine, sing-and-dance-and-entertain-the-hell-out-of-me talent show. Promise you won’t upload it to YouTube or share it on Facebook. Pinky-swear. No, there is no theme, no requirements, no directions, no anything. No, there is no right way to do it. Your kids have imaginations. They should use them.
Let them build a fort in the backyard. No, you should not help. Yes, they can use the $125 Pottery Barn Kids duvet cover from their bed. Making a memory trumps 400-thread-count cotton.
Finally, learn to find the amazing in the ordinary. Trust me. You will need this skill in your 40s. I pinky-swear.