Editor’s Letter: May 2019

Summer’s a great time to plan fun family activities. One of my favorite activities is silently judging other parents.

Granted, this is a super-fun activity all year round. But it really heats up in summer. What you do is, you sign your child up for some summer camps and activities. (If you don’t have a child, borrow one from a friend or neighbor. Trust me, during the summer they won’t mind.) Then you ask other parents/carers/child-borrowers what their kids are doing that summer, and then nod politely in a way that clearly implies that what they’re doing is probably for the best considering what a mediocre, inferior child they’re dealing with. Meanwhile, make it clear that you’re following the simple formula “SS+S=S to S.” (“STEM subjects plus sports equals scholarship to Stanford.”)

OK, perhaps I’m overdoing things just a bit. But for parents, summer and its many camps and activities can present some of those always-fun “Maybe I’m terrible at parenting and should just send my child to join the Latvian circus” moments.

On one hand, we hear that kids are stressed. They’ve got the standardized testing and the homework and so on. Summer’s a time to relax.

Ah, but then there’s the “summer slide,” which is the phenomenon of American children forgetting literally everything they’ve learned during their massive, 19th-century, go-help-Father-with-the-wheat summer break.

There’s the whole thing about kids not getting out enough, and the thing about the Florida summer sun being dangerous for kids if they get out in it too much. So then, if you’re scoring at home, here’s where we’re at: it’s important to make sure kids’ summer months are both stress-free and academically stimulating, but also outdoorsy, although not too much in the dangerous sun, which tends to be found outdoors.

The good news is that there are so many different camps out there. Science camps. Outdoors camps. Sports camps. Old-fashioned fun-and-games camps. Camp Live Oak, which is basically all of those. There are even camps and clubs that teach things like skateboarding and surfing. (Those are great, by the way, but what are kids supposed to do when Mom and Dad sign them up for something that’s at least somewhat meant to annoy Mom and Dad? “Oh, you’d like to rebel against authority? Super, I’ve signed you up for two weeks of rebellion camp. You get to make your own shirt!”)

And me? The Petersens plan to sign Small Human up for a few things that are based around her interests and definitely not just what can allow us to sound smug when we run into other parents at Starlight Musicals. We’ll try to incorporate several of the major S’s – some science, some softball, tremendous amounts of sunscreen.

I’ll save the Stanford shirt for another year.

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