For kids, summer is that magical time of no books, no assignments, no early mornings and no state assessments. They come into this blessed season, anticipating sleeping in, swimming all afternoon and if they wish really, really hard, going on some fabulous trip to some fabulous place. All expenses paid by the parents, of course.
For dads, summer can be that not-so magical experience of little time off, little reprieve from assignments, little chance to sleep in, and little chance of not feeling constantly assessed. We always question our parenting, but never more so than during the good old summertime. The pressure is on to keep up at work, and provide memorable experiences for our children, as well.
While there may be times in which we can take our kids on what we deem “real vacations,” there are many other times when that may not be possible. Of course, a trip to see Mickey Mouse is going to stick in your child’s memory, but so is a water fight in the backyard. Some activities are dictated by geography, I am well aware of that. My family lived all over the country, and even in the Republic of Panama, so we had times where a trip to the beach was a cheap and easy memory to make. Other places we lived, just getting to a small lake was both time and money consuming. As our boys grew older, time, money and geography were joined by Little League and camp schedules. Planning “ultimate summertime experiences” became anything but, "fun in the sun."
I don’t envy the young parents in this age of social media. Scrolling through endless pictures of endless summer bucket list check-offs can be depressing for the father who is working 60-75 grueling hours a week just to put a hot dog on the rusty, 20-year-old charcoal grill in the overgrown backyard. But, a $5, half-hour water balloon fight in that weed-filled grass could provide a memory for your kids that sticks with them as long as any meet and greet with The Mouse. Now, there is nothing wrong with taking a lavish trip when given the opportunity, but don't forget that lavish love is really what our children crave the most. And that, fellow dads, is truly magical. I encourage you, today, to take the opportunities that are right in front of you - whether big or small - to make summer memories that last a lifetime, for both you, and your kids. Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen!