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What Makes Summer

July 11, 2017 - Jen Zbozny
Summertime has its flavor slow cooked into it. It's the low and slow delicous comfort food of memory and time of year. Years of childhood summers slowly bubbled and rendered their flavors into the essence of my understanding of heat, humidity, a certain whirring sound of bugs and room air conditioners, the smell of chlorine, unconstructed free-time, and childhood liberty.

I'm thinking about that now and trying as always to strike the right balance as a person, and a parent. For many working parents, summertime means scrambling to find summer camps, and squeezing in a vacation if they're lucky. For some parents it means wondering what they will do with a houseful of children who are no longer bound by school routines. It can be hard to manage all the troops all they if they're different ages and have different likes, or if they're snarky teenagers.

But I have this unshakable idea that one of the most delicious parts about summer, especially for kids, is the languidfeeling of how time can stretch out. I look at lots of summer camps and know children who do camps all summer long and enjoy them. Yet I can't escape the idea that a jam packed schedule makes it feel like the time has gone too quickly. As a kid whose parents didn't have time or money for camp after camp, my days were filled by hanging out in my favorite magnolia tree and waiting for my best friend Monday to appear out her back door so we could stare at the clouds and see what they looked.ike to us. Or play in the sprinkler. Or see if it was so hot that crayons would melt on the street. Then beg one of our moms for a sleepover. Repeat.

It may not seem like the stuff of blockbuster films, but that's where we expanded our horizons by riding one, then four, then twelve streets away on our bicycles, and celebrated when we were deemed old enough to walk to the candy shop without any bigger kids. We peeked in the windows of our elementary school, and always ate all the banana popsicles first. Ostensibly we learned to entertain ourselves and stretched the muscles of our imaginations (I very fondly remember trying very hard to rig a tin can and stringphone between mineand Mindy's bedroom windows. Thatwasmath camp, physics camp, and string theory all in one).

I think in Eve's case she needs that kind of balance. Maybe not all kids do. I think she needs time in her magnolia tree and time to enjoy getting muddy in her back yard. I think it's good for her mind, and her soul. I think I need to make sure she has the stuff that makes summers for her that way.

And I think you need to tell me it's okay that when she asked to cancel out of art and architecture camp, I said was a terrific looking camp, and she'd definitely learn a great deal, but I think in this case I made the right call.

What about you? What makes it summerfor you and how are you giving the slow cooked essence of summerti your kids?


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