Buried deep in the mists of time, perhaps just after the primordial soup and before the Paleozoic grilled cheese sandwich, there existed something I like to call childhood.
My offspring, having not yet received education including geological time periods, refer to this era as simply ?the olden days.? They often ask me if things were really in black and white, like the pictures, and seem disappointed when I explain we didn?t have photographs, we just used rocks to peck images onto other rocks.
At least, that?s what I think all of those eye rolls are.
Their favorite question this time of year is what I, their ancient matriarch, did on my summer vacations when I was slightly less venerable than I currently am. Of course, I have to actually dredge through the sediment of memory to remember what I actually did. At the time, it seemed like quite a lot.
A typical day in June began with making sure I closed the windows at the precise second the thermometer hit 80. If we weren?t running the A/C (yes, I know, our cave was quite modern), we made the most of the cool night air and tried to save it for the heat of the day.
After that, the details get hazy. I remember eating lots of peanut butter or cold sausage sandwiches, and making sure there was enough sun tea. My mother was constantly trying to get me to clean my room, with much the same results I?m currently achieving with my kids. After Aunt Melba gave us an Atari, I?d have to spend a little time each day honing my Asteroids or Pitfall skills.
Afternoons were usually spent at the town pool with the neighbor kids. We?d hop on our bikes, ride across town, and perfect our lobster impressions. Sunscreen in those days seemed more useful to mask the odor of sweaty kid than as an actual UV inhibitor. We?d take as much loose change as we could muster, so we could buy candy bars out of the refrigerator or ropes of red licorice as long as our legs.
When we?d had enough of the pool, we?d head home for some roller skating around the neighborhood, or find some run-over toads to squish with our bike tires. Every now and then, we?d get in a crabapple fight with the boys down the street. Let me tell you, those things hurt.
Eventually, we?d mosey home for supper, and maybe get to watch ?MacGyver? afterward. If Menno had been harvesting, sometimes there was a wheat truck to play in. Then, a little more bike riding until the streetlights came on and our parents hollered at us to come home and get to bed.
The only set time I can remember is 1 p.m., when the pool opened. Everything else just fell into place whenever it wanted to. Parents really weren?t part of the equation until supper. They knew what you were up to, and with whom. Everybody in town knew who you were and who your parents were, and if you messed up, your parents would hear about it before you could get home on your bike.
Time traveling forward, I?m wondering how my kids will remember this summer when it?s their ?olden days.? Everything is regimented, planned, scheduled. We?re forever running late for something.
Spur of the moment plans are almost unheard of, and definitely viewed with trepidation. Even flexibility has to be planned for, made allowances for, depending on how much it impacts existing schedules.
At their age and being farm kids, biking into and across town isn?t an option. So, the mom taxi lurches into motion, trying to make the most of every trip.
Of course, being in constant contact increases friction. It doesn?t take long before the whining turns into teasing, and teasing into fighting. Fighting expands to include everyone in earshot.
So, what shall we fight about today? The room that isn?t clean, yesterday?s dishes in the sink, or the reading list that has barely been touched? Who did their other chores today? Does Mom or Dad have time to do them and get caught up? What do you mean, you?re bored?
At this point, I think I need a vacation from summer vacation. It?s only halfway through June, and I have a whole new sympathy for Rocky Balboa. Some days are like going the distance with Apollo Creed AND Ivan Drago both ganging up on you.
Some days, it takes a conscious effort to let go and relax. I don?t remember ever having to drag myself out of bed on a summer day back in prehistory. Maybe that?s the gift I can give the kids this summer?to take care of scheduling the right things at the right times so they don?t have to either. And maybe, just maybe, we?ll go fishing.