The Big Picture

What Summer Is For

By Margie Sims
Posted 7/7/19

I never did get use to the school schedule of the northeast when I lived up there, as classes did not dismiss until the last week of June. Is anyone even listening by then? Now that I'm back in the …

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The Big Picture

What Summer Is For

Posted

I never did get use to the school schedule of the northeast when I lived up there, as classes did not dismiss until the last week of June. Is anyone even listening by then? Now that I'm back in the south, we have been enjoying summer for a whole month. My southern friends simply cannot imagine how what marks the middle of summer down here (July 4th) means summer has barely begun in the north. Still, whether summer starts early or late, I'll take it. I simply love summer.

When I was a kid, my friend and I would pack our lunch, hop on our bikes and vanish until dinner. Every day was filled with a new adventure, exploring the woods, playing hide and seek in the church cemetery (my mother would not have approved), roaming the pasture where my dad kept our horses.

Another friend and I would make our rounds: the public pool, the 7-11, or the school where the Memphis Park Commission organized supervised play at the playground. Box hockey, tether ball, water activities, board games. It was a great way to grow up, as every day was filled with wonder and discovery.

Most of the time I walked or rode my bike, but sometimes I took my horse out for the afternoon, riding her down the road, through the orchard, wherever our noses led us. In all those summers of unsupervised days, I was approached only once by a stranger. A man on a motorcycle pulled over and offered me a ride when I was walking home one day. When I refused, he drove away and I ran home.

By the time I had kids of my own, the world had changed, and I resented that I couldn't let them go find their own adventures. Instead, I felt compelled to keep them within sight, too afraid to let them wander. Every activity was--and is--organized and supervised.

Once in a while they ask me if they can hop on their bike, but until they are about 12, the answer is no. "When I was as young as 7 or 8, I spent my days exploring and finding my own adventures," I tell them regretfully, "but the world is not so safe anymore, and you will have to wait til you're older."

I know it sounds crazy, but I have this dream for my kids: that one day they will look into the eyes of their children and say, "When I was a kid, it was too dangerous to go off by myself, but now the world is a much safer place. Be home by dinner."

Every kid deserves an adventurous, care-free summer. It's the least we can give them.

It's what summer is for.

Margie Sims is a writer and a mom of ten who lives with her family in Fairhope. Watch for the release of her first book Launch: Preparing Your Kids for Takeoff October, 2019.