Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Old Postcard Wednesday—Summer vacation: Long live the holidays!

Interesting, isn't it, that the first line, on the left, in French is translated on the right-hand side of the card, but the line in Dutch is not translated! It's OK, however, because unlike the 1970s when this card was printed, we now have Google to translate the line for us. It means: It's nicer here than in the classroom!

Well, of course it is. And July always seemed like the best of the summer vacation months, pocketed between June when there was an adjustment phase in being out of the classroom, and August when it began to dawn that there would actually be an end to all this fun.

I wonder if it is true where you live, but I actually saw a "back-to-school" ad on TV this week. As if it didn't go fast enough......

We all have our favorite memories of summer vacations away from school. I found an article by a pediatrician that I quite liked and thought this post was a good place to share it. The author is this kindly-looking man, Brent Prather, M.D, of Opelousas, Louisiana.

Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center

Dr. Brent has written over 350 articles about parenting and allergies. He has compiled books which he distributed to many of his patients and associates. Many of the articles can be accessed by clicking on the topics of interest.


Every summer our children are released from school for almost three months. This is an ideal time to bless them with extra time and attention at home. Unfortunately, many families forget to plan summer activities with their children and get "caught up" in their own work pressures and other time consuming duties. As a parent of three grown children and a pediatrician for sixteen years, I strongly recommend committing as much time as you can find in your life to your children throughout their summer. Time is the major necessary ingredient to build lasting, loving relationships and memories among family members. Summer is the best opportunity to find this extra time. Wise parents plan lots of relaxed, fun, family activities.

When I was a child growing up in Opelousas in the 50's, my dad was a busy, overworked pediatrician. He worked 12 to 14 hour days, often seven days a week. One thing he did find time for, however, was a nice long summer vacation with the whole family. These three to four week trips in our airstream trailer are my happiest memories of childhood. I can remember almost every state we went through and every park we camped in. Somehow the relaxed nature of a summer vacation becomes a magic time for a young child. I strongly recommend placing summer vacation together as a family as a high priority. Where you go and what you do is not important. The important thing is sharing the relaxed fun time together as a family and getting involved with your children. If a trip is not possible then a simple outing together in town or a local park will do. Be enthusiastic planning it and watch your kids get excited.

Vacation time is probably the best teaching time we have with our kids. There is more time to talk, listen, observe, sing, laugh, and just generally have fun playing together. Shared meals can become a great teaching time. Mental games can be anything you want them to be while you are driving in a car or seated in a restaurant. Making sandcastles on the beach, hiking in the woods or mountains, or fishing in a stream or lake can become your children's happiest memories and activities your family will return to over and over again.

I strongly recommend reading with your children. This can start at any age, even infancy. Kids love to be read to and to read along with their parents even during their teen years. The most inspiring book my son and I ever read together was a great book called The Power of One by Bruce Courteney. It is a story of a young White South African boy who grows up without a father and has to survive amidst the abuse of other white children, who are very prejudiced. He befriends himself with the Black South Africans and their struggle and sets his goal to become the welterweight champion of the world. The book is a fascinating journey of overcoming the odds, noble heroism, and goal setting. Dozens of other inspirational books have been shared with our three kids by my wife and I. They were as much a joy for us to read even if they happened to be a second or third reading as they were for our children. Read with your children everyday and especially every opportunity you get this summer.

Finally, besides recreation time and reading with your children the best advice I can give parents is to pray with your children. Summer is a wonderful time to grow spiritually as we slow down and listen to God talking to us. Share daily prayers and worship together weekly as a family.

Share a spiritual book or goal this summer and let your children ask the inevitable questions all children wonder about as they are growing up. They will surely grow wiser as they strive to learn the answers. Summer is a truly blessed time for children and for parents. Take advantage of it and make it an awesome, memorable summer for your whole family.

Dr. Prather's plan sounds nearly ideal, except I would alter those final two paragraphs. I would advise that a family might explore different kinds of beliefs for true spiritual growth, thereby giving kids the gift of choice when it comes to their own spiritual paths.

As we all know, not every kid has the kind of summer vacation spelled out by Dr. Prather or as pictured on this old postcard. The man in the video below tells us with exuberance about his happiest summer memories......summer gaming memories, to be the summer of 1987, to be even more exact. I am absolutely not a gamer and if I had ever been a parent I would have reluctantly allowed some gaming, while attempting to steer kids far away from the all-consuming love affair this guy had with gaming as a boy. He even admits that his parents used his Nintendo as a babysitter during that summer (see portion from 3:55-4:36). But look at his face. These were truly happy times for him, and he doesn't appear to have turned out to be too bad a fella, geek though he obviously still is today!

Maybe the lesson is that what kids need for a great summer vacation is a combination of the family values spelled out by Dr. Prather combined with allowing a kid to embrace the activities (safe, legal ones, duh) where he/she enters that wonderful state of flow, to have time doing what turns on their creativity, to do whatever floats their boat!



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

sorry to be crude here, but out television is chock full of adverts proclaiming that a woman's time of the month won't stop them winning olympic gold (Proctor and Gamble - who as well as tampons make washing up liquid, detergents and 1001 other products) being one of the big sponsors of the Olympics along with those by-words for healthy food McDonalds and Cadburys...erm...

School holidays always used to seem to last forever as kids, but a summer just isn't the same now.

Used to be the way that it wasn't a proper summer until you'd burned your bum on a red hot slide, or some kid had fallen off the swings and been taken to hospital - now health and safety have stepped in - probably for the best to be honest

Reading as a kid, and being made to understand that reading is FUN is absolutely vital - i look at the facebook pages of people who went to arguably better schools than i did, but whose language skills are approaching neanderthall from the wrong end because they were never encouraged to read.

Me? I was hooked from an early age thanks to Roald Dahl and the sci-fi novelizations of Terrance Dicks

rosaria williams said...

Such idealized times! Many children I know end up watching television all day long, inside most of the time, while mom and dad are at work and the babysitter is just a couple of years older than they are, and she/he is not choosing this job if she had choices.
If this is our present reality, than we need plenty of summer camps that are affordable or free to families with small children.

susan said...

That postcard picture is so sweet, isn't it? I was reminded of the best and most magical parts of childhood summers. Oh yes, there was a lake where I grew up and trips to more distant lakes for the two week holiday we took every year. Much of what I remember was the thrill of endless possibility and a benevolent mystery peeking through.

Rob-bear said...

Post card.
Summer Holidays.
Cliff Richards.

We're all going on a summer holiday
no more working for a week or two

Ah, yes. Je me souviens. (I remember.) I think susan has waxed sufficiently historical for both of us.

The only serious allergy I have is to hard work. No effective cure that I've found. Quelle domage. (What a pity.)

kj said...

lydia, i've just spent four days with my daughter and sil and three grandchildren, ages 1, 3, and 5. that is the only summer vacation they will have. not enough time, surely

and yet we had a blast. every one of us. we played games and built sand moats and watched snails and made clay animals. we read and played cards and walked and held hands. i know the kids won't forget it and i sure as hell know i won't

i hope my daughter decides on a full week next year. it's what you say: it's that important.

kiss kiss lydia

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Sounds like the ads there are in as bad taste as over here.
I'll watch Olympics coverage anyway, though.
No surprise that you were a reader early on!

rosaria~ It is sad that it's an idealized view. I think that is true for the overall view of American life.
Love your idea of free summer camps. It should be done, but will it happen?....

susan~ Oh, I wish every kid could grow up and be able to write what you so beautifully expressed:
Much of what I remember was the thrill of endless possibility and a benevolent mystery peeking through.

Rob-bear~ I seem to have the same allergy as you so far this summer. I have to get myself into gear!
Thank you for all the phrases in French, the language I still want to learn (as I said, better get myself into gear...).

kj~ That is horrible that they only get four days! But you sure made the most of it. I hope that summer weekends for them can be mini-vacations, even just playing at home or the local pool.
I sure am glad I have memories of summer vacations with my family.

Brian Miller said...

i rather like the thought of giving kids that gift of choice...back to school ads have def started here too...just getting back from vacay yesterday, i gotta wonder where the time went...

Lydia said...

Brian~ Thanks, Brian.
Well, part of your vacation went into creating that special-beyond-belief poem about going on the rides with your kids.



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