little girl picking flowers

Mama Said 'Go Outside and Play'

Mama Said Summer 2024 

Slow. That’s what summer was to me as a child growing up in the country. When I think of summer vacation, I think of long, hot days spent wandering around the farm, usually alone, coming up with ways to entertain myself. I’d work in the barn, fish a little, and build some architecturally unsound forts. The possibilities were endless, and I always ended the day with grass stains, a few scrapes and scratches, and dirt under my nails — good, (not so) clean fun.  

Those days predated iPads and smart devices — even internet was sparse. There was always TV, and I would catch up on Days of Our Lives reruns and the Price is Right episodes, but a whole world of wonder waited outdoors. What I recall most is the feeling of hot days that just stretched on and on. The clock seemed to slow, and it felt like the days and the lazy summer would never end. 

The beginning of summer came with the excitement of school letting out for the very last time. It was a relief to abandon alarm clocks and homework. My mom might pop me in a camp here or there at the Country Club or the local community college. I never really cared for it. I much preferred the long, slow, solitary days on the farm.  

Times have indeed changed. Now I need a color-coded calendar and a spreadsheet just to keep track of my kids’ summer camps. I have their summer activities planned to the very minute. And you better have an alarm set for when registration opens for the camps or God forbid, every opening is going to be filled. And hey, maybe this way is better for the all of us. They are somewhere learning new skills and making new friends instead of at home parked in front of the TV. But I think there is something to be said for the long lost days of slow summer days when you didn’t feel aimless but poised for the next great adventure. It was a treasured time to just be a kid and explore the world around you at your own pace. 


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