My daughter is eight years old. She’s played a handful of sports, she’s done Girl Scouts, she’s danced, she’s taken some art classes. My general rule of thumb is no more than two activities at a time. They simply wear her out, especially during the school year.
All kids are different. My daughter is the type who, like me, needs to recharge. After school, she comes home and just wants to decompress. That means, let’s not talk for a while and let me get something to eat and play on the computer for a little bit in silence. When I get off work, I feel the exact same way. “Look I’ve been perky and attentive all day people, I just need to chill!”
Those school nights that she had to turn around and go to basketball or dance would be daunting for her at times. Sure, she had fun once she got there, but sometimes she also just wanted to relax.
As we approached summer, I asked my daughter what she wanted to do. “Do you want to play golf like you did last summer? Do you want to do a dance camp? Do you want to play t-ball?” The answers were all lukewarm. “Eh, I don’t know.” So you know what…
I didn’t sign her up for any of those things.
She wasn’t excited. And I wasn’t excited to sign her up for things that she wasn’t excited about (neither was my checkbook).
Here’s what does excite and recharge her: playing outside, going to the pool, making impromptu trips to the library with her grandparents, reading books and simply be-bopping around.
When I think back to my own summers as a child, the memories that stick out usually aren’t that awesome tennis camp I went to or the art classes where I never picked up my fully baked pottery (whoops).
It’s times at the pool with my friends, making concoctions in the kitchen and bicycling around the neighborhood that I remember most. That’s summer to me.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think kids should be bumps on logs. I recognize the value of expanding their horizons and getting involved with things. However, I also recognize that kids just want to be kids and I’m okay listening to mine when she tells me she just wants to chill.
Summer is a good time for chilling.
In small talk, people often ask, “So what’s your daughter up to this summer?” This is a fine and fair question, but I just don’t have much of a response to it. “Oh, just hanging out,” I say. And I’m content with that answer.