Growing up in a small town and then raising a family in the city can be very difficult at times. I look back at my youth and although there wasn't a lot to do I still have fond memories. Will my kids have fond memories of their childhood? Am I doing all that I can to make them all that they can be and have fun too?
I grew up in a small town and my parents owned the local "diner". When we hit middle school my father decided to get into the tree business as well. My mom worked full time at the Intermediate School District in Education. My father says that he decided to plant blue spruce pine trees to put Heidi and me through college. It turned out to be a huge undertaking and my sister and I were the helpers on the tree farm. At his peak he had nearly 60,000 trees and our summers were spent working together in the fields doing various things. The drought in the 80's forced us to hand water as many trees as we could to keep them alive. Every summer the trees needed to be pruned, fertilized and trimmed. It was always my Dad, Heidi and me. Dad would take the middle row so he could watch us and make sure we were doing our job correctly. I remember July being the month when the 6am wake up calls would come and we would head out to get the pruning done before the sun got too hot. We were usually finished by 9 and we would take a jump into the lake to cool off before heading into the drive-in for lunch hour. We referred to the diner as the Drive In. The official name was Jerry's Drive-In and it was the local place to eat. The lunch hours were busy and needed the extra hands to make it go smooth. It was usually 2pm and we were done for the day. We were not paid to work in the trees as it was part of our college education but we were paid for our work at the restaurant. I hated working in the trees at the time but I look back and know that it was a great learning experience and good for us. Now don't get me wrong.....we had lots of things to have fun with when the work was done. We had 4 wheelers, a speed boat and plenty of time to knee board, water ski and tube all summer. My mom and dad always worked very hard but always made sure there was fun in the end.
I would always attend some sort of sports camp in the summer. It was usually basketball or volleyball camp and one year it was Space Camp. I took a bus to Huntsville, Alabama for a week at Space Camp. It was a very fun experience and remember it well. Our family would also take out the pop up camper and do some camping. Living in a small town it really made the city look cool so our Aunt Myrna would let my sister and me come down to Farmington Hills and stay with her for a week every summer. This was the highlight of the summer because Myrna would let us do whatever we wanted to do. She would sit down with us when we arrived and we would do a schedule of everything we wanted to do. We would go to Boblo Island, Water Parks, The Mall, Lots of movies and anywhere else our wildest dreams wanted to experience. It must have cost her a fortune to entertain us the way she did. We could stay up as late as we wanted to and she had cable TV too. Aunt Myrna still lives in the city as I always referred to it as and now I live just 15 minutes away from her in the "city".
My kids are having a very different summer experience. I try to make sure they have jobs to do such as picking weeds, cleaning, vacuuming and various other things that need doing around the house. They have to read everyday and do some writing for me but that is about all that is required of them. Our days are full of visits to the beach, zoo,parks and various pools owned by friends. There are a couple camps that they all attend and we are busy going to swim practices and hockey. We spend time up north, where I grew up, and they think that is just the best place ever. We take them to Friday night at the beach where we eat and play and we try to fit in some play dates along the way. I am constantly looking for a new activity to do with them but often if there is water than all is good (at least for now...it won't be long before the older ones will require different activities and that is when I will probably lose my mind). The city does provide for a different kind of summer than the country.