Monday, June 27, 2011

The summer she spent away

While Jennifer may be too young to go to summer camp this year, it seems like she has a “day camp” thing going on. I have noticed how, these days, she is rarely at home – she’s at her friend’s house. Or, friend’s houses. Instead of staying at home during the day, she’s hanging out with friends or with our neighbors.

On one hand, I’m happy she’s turned into such a sociable person. It’s good for her to interact with other people and build her social skills. But on the other hand, I worry. I worry she’ll forget the safety rules we have taught her, or be careless with her personal safety, and something bad might happen. And I worry that all this time she’s spending with her friends means less time with her family.

Still, maybe I shouldn’t complain on that last note. After all, it’s not like her “family time” is suffering. Just yesterday, she went to the park with her dad and little brother and they all played baseball. Then they went out for ice cream. That quality time with family is there.

But is it there enough?

I know, it’s summer. Kids should be allowed to be kids during the summer. They should be riding their bikes, hanging out with their friends and going swimming. They shouldn’t HAVE to spend more time at home or with family. They need to get out and enjoy this break from school. This break from schedules and routines. But quality time with family is just as important during the summer, too. I mean, after all, families go on vacations during the summer. Or check out county fairs and stuff like that. And I keep asking myself, are those two things balanced? Is she spending as much time with her family as she is with her friends?

I’m probably just being neurotic here. I should count my blessings. I’m glad my daughter has so many friends. I’m glad she is able to hang out with her friends and have fun with them. I'm glad she's not such a couch potato during her summer vacation. I’m glad she is safely returning home from her friend’s houses every day – so far.

Maybe she just really needs this time away from family. She needs a break from her brother driving her crazy or her mother suggesting she do just one more page of math problems in her math workbook or her father giving her one job around the house or another. She needs to create some happy summer memories with her friends. Maybe she just needs this.

But we need that family time, too.

I suppose instead of stressing out that she isn’t getting enough of that family time, I should just wing it. Allow her to continue hanging out with her friends so much and grab that family time that includes our daughter whenever it pops up. Summertime is no time for stress, after all. It’s a time for relaxation and going with the flow. So we’ll go with the flow and just enjoy summer.

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