The (mostly) un-programmed summer in Chicago


By Amy Bizzarri

Contributor and Blogger

Two summers ago, my son, now 12, was enrolled in tennis camp, golf lessons, swim lessons, boxing lessons, writing classes and some other programs here and there that I can't even remember. Last year, he was enrolled in the Junior Lifeguards program at North Avenue Beach.

This year, he's enrolled in a whopping zero summer programs.

Childhood is fleeting, and I'm realizing that before I know it, my son will be flying the coop-onto high school and college and bigger and brighter things. During the school year, I'm a working mom (a teacher!) and life is very go-go-go. During the summer, I relish being a stay-at-home mom and connecting, uninterrupted, with my kids.

I've thought a lot about all the things that I've wanted to do with my kids before they set off into teenager-land, and one of these things is to take a cross-country road trip in an RV. So some of our summer will be taken up with that lofty travel ambition, which still in its planning stages.

The rest of our summer will involve many bike rides, trips to our local pool and the beach, many evenings spent hanging out with our friends and family, barbecuing in our backyard, afternoon naps, and many hours with a good book in hand. My son loves reading, and especially during the summer, when he doesn't have to fill in the dreaded reading log required as part of nightly homework during the school year. I also look forward to preparing nice meals (during the school year, I simply don't have time to prepare anything even mildly elaborate on weekdays). I will be spending many hours watching my 3-year-old daughter putter around in her sandbox and splash around in her pink blow-up pool. I'll save up some time for just me, myself, and I, too.

Thank God that as a teacher, the summer is mine. If I were president, I would support a one month break for each and every parent to spend with their children. To be honest, I don't know who benefits more from our time spent together-my children or myself.

Childhood is so fleeting: there is an entire adulthood ahead of our kids, where they'll have to balance work and home and everything else us moms and dads manage to fit into our days. I am officially de-programming the summer in our family, and leaving most days up to whim. June, July and August are a blessing that I am so very thankful to have.

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