There’s a no-man’s land, I think, in those big-tween/young-teen years, when it comes to summer break. The kids are too old to really need supervised care of some sort, but they’re still too young to get a job. Back when I was a kid, I attended camp pretty much full time as soon as school let out, until I was 14—at which point I got a job and worked every summer. But nowadays (at least around here), other than babysitting, jobs for younger teens appear to be a thing of the past. There’s still plenty of ways to keep the kids busy both in and out of the house, of course, and I have a lot of fond memories of my own camp experiences, but I guess I’ve come to view summer differently, over the years.
Call me a sap if you must (you wouldn’t be the first one), but once both my kids hit the teens, it really sank in that yes, they do grow up and aren’t going to be here with me forever. Their childhoods are going to be over in a few short years. This fills me with a mixture of panic over all I still want to instill in them before they’re no longer under my roof and wistfulness for simpler times, when teenagers weren’t expected to spend their summers doing things that will look amazing on their college applications. Throw in a summer of extreme family stress and medical crises (last year), and years of a vague sense of what I kind of want for my kids has gelled into a manifesto of sorts for the summer months. Read More