This week, here in Southern Ontario, marks the end of school. Thursday is the last day, and then the joy of summer vacation begins.
I remember what it was like, being a kid in school, nearing the end of the school year. We lived in a rural community and there were no organized activities, and no community centers nearby. Heck, there weren’t even any public pools in our area until I was about 13.
That didn’t matter to us one whit. Summer time was magic time. It was sleep in time and play outside all day time.
We had a creek, pronounced “crick”, and that we got to go to some days when my brother had permission to drive us there. More rarely, there was the Burlington Beach, which is a beach on Lake Ontario.
Trips to the beach when my dad was alive were sweet special Saturdays. Mom and dad would pack a picnic lunch for us, including a big jug of homemade lemonade. In those days, at the Beach strip, there was an amusement park with rides and booths where you could get foot long hotdogs and soda! Those treats were very rare indeed.
We would stay all day, even having a nap at some point, and wouldn’t leave until near to dusk. We knew it was getting close to leaving time when mom handed us the bar of soap and told us to go into the water and wash off. I can see you cringing, as I am cringing, confessing that. But everyone did it and no one believed they were doing any harm.
The rides at the beach strip are long gone, but I do recall they were still there when my youngest was about four, because we went once. It was a shock to me, to see how sad that merry-go-round looked!
I was the youngest of three, and while my mother had to work, during the summer my brother and sister were at home, and responsible for watching over me. Then when my brother got married and moved out, when I was twelve, it was just my sister and me, but by that age I really was pretty much on my own.
Staying inside watching television, in the good weather, was something that never would have occurred to me. And if it had, I wouldn’t have been allowed to do so. “Go outside and play!” My mother would say first thing in the morning on the days she was off. I could grab a sandwich at noon, but then it was out the door again until she called me in for dinner.
Our parents didn’t always know where we kids were and they sure didn’t have a clue what we were doing. I don’t know if that was benign neglect or not. There wasn’t much “bad” we could get up to. We made forts in the woods, and when I think about it now, though we were unsophisticated, country kids, we pretty much ran wild.
It wasn’t much different for my beloved, who at the time lived about twenty minutes away from me in the small town of Dundas. He tells how, if he wanted a lunch on a summer day, he had to pack a sandwich because the rule at his house was go out and play until supper. After that meal in the summer time, it was go back out and don’t come in until the street lights come on.
His mom had no idea what he was up to, either, all day. He says that was a very good thing for the comfort of his bottom, indeed.
My own kids didn’t have quite as much freedom as I did. They were small in the same country house I’d grown up in. After my mother passed, we bought it from the estate, and moved in. We put a fence up in the back yard, and the woods were still there, although quite a bit thinned thanks to the quarry.
Still, my children had the sense of being on adventures because I would let them play outside of the fenced area in the field beside our house sometimes.
But I don’t believe they ever really noticed me sitting on the kitchen table so I could keep my eye on them out the big window as they morphed into Transformers, fighting their diabolical foes.