There is a movement afoot to end summer vacations for children. Year-round schooling will help children learn better, they say. It will keep the brains of our tiny tots from oozing out and melting in the summer.
This is clearly the most evil plan since Genghis Khan rounded up 100,000 of his closest friends and decided to conquer everything between Moscow and Seoul.
Take away summer vacation? Are these fiends vampires that feed on the tears of infants?
Let kids forget a few things, if that’s the price of a long, lazy summer vacation. Today’s children will spend the next 50 years in college or working, or fretting about not working. Give them a few summers of no
I wouldn’t trade my childhood summers for anything.
I know that they weren’t always perfect. There were days, I’m sure, when the clouds rolled in, and I would loll on the couch like a lump of suet and loudly proclaim, “I’m booooooored!” (You get extra points for drawing out the word.)
But mostly I remember having fun. Running around in the backyard with wooden swords. And wooden guns. And wooden laser weapons. (My dad took requests.) Or general sticks, which could double as samurai swords or light sabres.
I was barefoot as often as possible, and by the end of the summer, not only was it impossible to get all the ground-in grime off my feet, they were so callused I could walk across hot asphalt or spilled tacks without damage.
There were epic water pistol fights, especially on hot days. This was in the days just before the rise of the Super Soaker, but one of our neighbours owned some old brass pump-powered fire extinguishers that served as worthy artillery pieces in our battles.
If the outdoors grew tiring, there were books. I am always amazed when I visit someone’s home and don’t immediately see a bookshelf groaning with paperbacks. It seems as if something vital is missing, like a house without a bathroom.
I read everything as a kid. Tolkien? The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were read to me at a young age by my mother. Robert A. Heinlein? I found his juvenile novels at the age of 10, and so I spent parts of my summers skating the icy canals of Mars, or flying between the outer planets with the Stone family, or suffering as a slave on an alien world with the orphaned Thorby.
When the sun finally set and the lingering twilight faded, it was time to read the scary stuff. John Bellairs wrote a series of children’s books that a generation of parents has unwittingly allowed their kids to read. The Eyes of the Killer Robot sounds a bit goofy, yes? It’s about a robot that kills children to take their eyes! Throw in the Edward Gorey covers and these books contributed to more panic-driven nightmares than Stephen King has ever called into being.
Although King is not to be trifled with. Especially if you are sleeping outside on a tarp to beat the heat, and reading Salem’s Lot. Every snapping twig is clearly a vampire sneaking up behind you.
This is leaving out scout and cub camps, being eaten alive by mosquitoes, the joys of learning how to pick up those big, iridescent beetles in just the right way to keep them from sinking their mandibles into your thumb.
And the smells: calamine, sunscreen, freshly mown grass, soil, pine needles and raspberry vinegar.
A child’s summer is a long, golden road with who knows what adventures at the far end or to be met along the way.
We shouldn’t steal that bright journey.