In less than six weeks, our Merkles will be home from England, and they’ll be living with us as they have the past two summers. So when summer rolls around, I come to think of my house as the Lake House, minus the lake. All the other kids and cousins come over so they can play together, and it’s just like being at the lake with no beach, no water, and no boat. A bit of a drawback, I agree, but it helps if I adopt a laid-back attitude, just as though we were at the lake. In other words, it’s summertime and the livin’ is easy. Sort of like summer camp with s’mores and hot dogs on a stick.
Back when our kids were school-aged, summer meant that IÂ needed to come up with some kind of structure and schedule, not as rigorous as a school schedule, but something flexible enough to keep everyone busy, happy, and productive but not over-worked or over-committed. I banned word bored, but if anyone ever said it, that meant an automatic extra job. It always took a week or two for everyone to settle into the summer groove, but if I had prepared myself with a plan, the transition always went smoother.
A lot of our summer activities revolved around reading. One of my friends started a reading group for some of the neighborhood kids, and one morning a week she showed up with treats,Â gathered the kids on a blanket in the yard, and read aloud to them. (One of the titles I recall was The Black Arrow.) Of course weÂ made many trips to the library. And I have to mention here, just so you will think I am from the dark ages, that the only way to see a movie (waaaaay back then) was to go to a theater. So a movie was seldom a family activity, until we purchased our very own vcr. What a big thrill that was!
My son has challenged his oldest (who will be in second grade in the fall) to read through a stack of books this summer, with prizes to award according to the number of books he gets through. But he’s an outdoor boy, busy with the serious business of playing in the back yard, so the reading will probably be at night or on the rainy days. Our kids spent many an hour in, up, and under the pine trees in our back yard, as well as sitting on our back porch while Doug read the Lord of the Rings aloud on summer nights.
The cousin action has already kicked in this summer at my Lake House with the big kids playing versions of tag and chase while the toddlers toddle and stumble about, taking notes for next summer. When all thirteen grandkids areÂ on the premises, I expect grand things to result. Lots of story material in the making. Meanwhile, I’m getting the Lake House stocked with marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars.