Every summer it happens: School’s out, every day for your kids is a blank canvas, and it’s up to you to decide how they fill it up. Until they get older, and you hope you’ve helped them build the habits and instincts they need to fill it up on their own.
Summer is a blur of activity, and each year we need to choose: do we maintain some degree of regimentation (camps, courses, community service, etc.), or let our play- deprived kids shut down the machine for a few weeks and recharge? For those of us who even have the luxury to pay close attention to such things, the quest involves trusting our instincts and finding a strategy that indulges both, so they can:
- Set even a small goal and achieve it with being nagged at.
- Walk away from a screen or a phone without being nagged at.
- Complete a chore without being nagged at.
We’re not opposed to structure, but we’re big fans of unstructured play. Freedom is a process, during which confines of the school year fall away. The dictates of scholastic routine border against the limits of the imagination, and then they knock each other down. A fresh start, if only for the summer, is not entered lightly, but once there, the air is clear and inviting. This is how batteries are recharged, whether you’re 12 or 50, and while there are countless obstacles and exceptions to the rule, it is a thing sorely needed.
Summer is a time for new things, tries and fails, family vacations should circumstance allow, and the growth of self. You can’t schedule that.
We’re ready to recharge our batteries, too, and next week we’ll take the time to do it. It will be our summer break, and that’s as far as our plans go.
Fatherhood on Friday will return on August 3, probably with a sunburn.
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Brian Gordon on Fortnite: “This recent game has had some weird, real-world ramifications. I’d see my son with his friends dancing in public, and I knew something was up.”
Jared Bilski on having a closeted father: “I always felt loved and accepted and safe, and my dad would do anything for me—anything except level with me about who he really was.”
Andy Samberg on fatherhood: “I had good training for parenthood by working at SNL. The sleep deprivation part of it has been like, ‘Oh, right—this feeling.'”
- “She has calmly and graciously moved from treatment to this decision. Not without tears, but with an unimaginable amount of strength. I am in awe of it, honestly.” – Rob Ainbinder, Attention Diverted. Decision Made.
- “There are days when I start thinking of ways out because I’m tired of all the pressure. I am tired of trying to live up to an image that I know isn’t real, but I’m afraid of letting the real me show.” – Victor Aragon, Thank You, Jack and Andrew
- “There’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely.” – Justin Connors, I Feel Lonely
- “And I want to be there for every moment of it. That’s why I get so overwhelmed with guilt when I tell her that I have to work … because it’s not completely true.” – Michael Kwan, On Being Able to Tuck Your Kids in at Night
- “I think the benefits of being forced to think more about the moment and the shot make for better pictures and memories.” – Tyler Lund, 5 Reasons I Switched To My Grandfather’s Film Camera To Document My Twins’ Childhood“
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