Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How should we make the most of summer?

From Saturday's Briefing:

We’re celebrating summer at the Damm house in a big way. Staying up late, sleeping in. Movies and swimming. The library and the park. Spontaneous night with ABBA. All in the first week.
Part of me thinks, “We really need to slow down. I’m a mom, not a full-time entertainer. Every day doesn’t have to be magical.”
And then another part chimes in, “This is what summer’s all about.”
Ah, summer. The season of conflict. Do we keep kids scheduled, entertained and challenged nonstop? Or do we let them roam wild, with the freedom to watch, eat and play whatever they want?
I’m aiming for a happy medium — as much as my planning gene will allow. And I’m thankful to have the option.
For the first time in many years, I’m mostly untethered this summer. I do have some professional development classes and on-campus meetings before school begins again in August, but the majority of my days are free from work, which affords me time with my children — children who, by the way, absolutely refuse to defy the aging process and are therefore making me at once wistful and slightly anxious.
I have five precious summers left with Cooper. Nine with Katie. There are moments when I sort of panic, when I wonder if I’ve been wasting time all these years and if we’ve created enough good memories.
And then I realize they’ve never once seen an episode of Leave It to Beaver, which seems all sorts of wrong, so I set the DVR to record a show a day and figure we’ll fit it in betweenBewitched and Gilligan’s Island — two other shows I think all children should watch.
Too much TV is all sorts of wrong, too, so we head to the library to balance out our media diet. While there, the kids realize they’ve seen every Muppet movie except The Muppet Movie circa 1979, so we check that out along with a pile of books.
After spending hours at the neighborhood pool, we pile on the sofa and watch Kermit leave his swamp for Hollywood and pick up familiar characters along the way, all while being chased by a frog-leg tyrant. The three of us sing along with “The Rainbow Connection” and laugh at ridiculous puns.
So much sitting, though, makes me wonder if we’re being wasteful again. Let’s walk the dog! Play at the park!
At last, there’s a lazy afternoon and evening on the horizon. Maybe we’ll mosey to the pool. Maybe I’ll fix dinner — or maybe we’ll all forage for snacks.
And then I get a phone call about unused tickets for Mamma Mia! at Music Hall at Fair Park. Would we like to go? As in, right now?
Do I want to change from my comfy clothes into theater clothes and fight rush-hour traffic to get from Frisco to Fair Park in time? Do I want to wake from the haze of summer and cram another event into the day, despite my misgivings about overscheduling my family?
Well, of course I do. It’s ABBA music, and what can be happier than 1970s pop?
We change, drive to pick up tickets, drive to pick up Grandma and arrive at the theater just in time.
It’s only when the house lights dim and the music begins that I recall that the subject matter that ties all those ABBA songs together is rather mature. So I spend much of the musical glancing sideways at 8-year-old Katie, checking to see how many, if any, double-entendres she catches. (None, as far as I could tell, though she did raise her eyebrows at some of the dance moves.)
She’s probably since forgotten any naughty dialogue in favor of the fabulous encore, during which the cast dons flashy duds to sing and dance three numbers.
Katie leapt from her chair and showed off some serious moves. Cooper was, as usual, slightly more reserved but boogied nonetheless. We all sang and clapped and moved our hips and waved our arms with wild abandon.
Summer is yet young. We’ve got some lazy days ahead. But gracious, I’m thankful we’re cramming in some celebrations, too.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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