No bones about it, being a kid today is way less idle and way more stressful than it used to be.
One mom has had it up to here with extracurriculars. In a post on Today, she laments the pressure on today's kids to succeed - even when they are supposed to be on vacation.
Summers used to be lazy and boring - and that was a good thing.
These days, every week of the summer break is scheduled with camps and formal activities. It's not enough for kids to simply enjoy hobbies, they must pursue them relentlessly, competitively, to an end.
Case in point, the mom is torn between allowing her 13-year-old daughter attend a relaxed, woodsy camp or an intensive ballet course. ("'Summer' and 'intensive' don't even belong in the same sentence.")
Her daughter worries that if she doesn't attend the ballet intensive, she will fall behind her peers.
It's sad that summer should not be immune from stress. After all, the school year is already packed with academic pressure, and to get the edge today's kids must also possess impressive "extracurriculars" if they want to land a coveted college spot.
It seems that even fun must be scheduled and carefully plotted.
"I’m not sure when doing nothing after school fell out of favor. As a kid, I was a pro at nothing. We all were," writes the mom, who worries that if her daughter spends too much time dancing, there will be little time to discover other passions in life.
As the mom points out, summer is about doing "activities that don’t transfer well to a resume, like swimming in a lake, running to get mail, talking without the aid of technology." Kids are sorely lacking such non-activities, and it's hurting their health, not to mention our wallets.
However, as one commenter cautions, we should take our cues from our children. If we deny them a chance to indulge in their true passion during the summer, they may grow resentful. In other words, if the girl really wants to dance, let her dance. But we should also factor in plenty of time to let her vegetate.
I can't relate. My childhood summers involved lingering at neighbourhood parks, buying Freezies, and biking around with no real agenda. The days were wide open and there were no expectations. Because no one told us what to do or how to spend our every minute, my cousins and I were able to come up with our own plans and projects. We didn't rely on adults to entertain or stimulate us - not they would have dreamed of it anyway; they had other shit to attend to.
I'm not saying kids need a full two months of blank calendar space, yet some of that summer spontaneity and open-handedness needs to make a comeback.
The art of being lazy and bored is seriously undervalued. Summer is about letting kids soak up some real downtime before school starts - yes, even the kind that involves loafing in their own backyard and driving their parents crazy.