CANDY ALLAN: Summer means problem-solving
School has been out for the summer almost three weeks now. Things are going well to date, meaning the kids haven’t killed each other and I haven’t heard, “I’m bored” more than a handful of times yet.
But both kids seem to be more concerned with making it through a summer — gasp — without seeing their friends regularly than anything else. Hmmm. I suppose it’s a tween thing. The whole starting-to-focus-outside-the-family thing.
For whatever reason, that’s the prevailing concern. Now, to me, this is a tempest in a teapot but I’m coming to the discussion from a different perspective: that of a grown-up.
For starters, my son’s baseball team is still playing ball. There’s been a game or practice two nights a week since school got out, with the exception of this week, which had only one. Still, that’s a regular time to hang out with friends. My daughter routinely plays with the other players’ siblings, so she’s getting some peer time, as well.
Secondly, summer vacation is three months long, max. I know to a kid that feels like forever, but it’s really not. Not to mention the week of Boy Scout camp, the Girl Scout event coming up next month and the family vacation will all provide diversion during that time.
Still, I can appreciate the idea the kids think this “long” period without interacting with their friends is an issue. What I appreciate more is they both came up with a solution, without any help from me.
My son got the addresses of his friends and is attempting to set up pen pals for himself over the summer. My daughter got phone numbers with hopes of calling friends for conversations, or potentially, visits. (I’m not entirely sure what her goal was, as she hasn’t asked to do either yet.)
Will either plan work? I hope they both do, but I have no way to know they will. If the plans don’t work — if the other kids don’t write back or a phone call never gets farther than an answering machine — I’m just going to wait and see what the kids come up with next.
As they get older, it’s kind of fun watching them figure things out. It’s even more interesting watching them both solve a similar problem in different ways. I’m trying to provide fewer solutions, or if I do, providing several options instead of a single answer.
I think it’s good for them to figure out their own problems and create their own solutions. At the risk of “being a bad mom,” it’s a lot easier on me, too. I can focus on things I need to solve or complete and leave the kids’ issues to them. Sure, I have to help out, but it’s becoming rarer.
It’s all part of the master plan: Make myself obsolete so they don’t need me to function. It appears to be working.
Let’s be honest, I’ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there’s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at email@example.com, and you might see your thoughts in print in an upcoming issue of the Herald Review.