Oklahoma City family fun is going on all around us and it doesn't have to be perfect.
Summer is a more relaxed time at our house and without a doubt, my favorite season. The heat rarely bothers me. My husband's schedule is more flexible. Sunshine pours in the windows, inviting us outdoors, and it somehow seems to illuminate the fact that my sons have grown over the winter. I look up from my laptop and watch as Sam, Isaac and Gabriel take turns cavorting around the house on their Dad's shoulders.
I take a pause to ask Sam and Isaac what their ideal summer day would be. When our editor at MetroFamily, Hannah Schmitt, asked me to participate in our 100 Days of Summer Fun activities lineup by describing a day my sons would enjoy, I was curious to see what they'd say.
"You mean like right now? Today? Are we going somewhere?" asks Sam, 8.
"No. I mean, can you help me imagine what you'd like to do together a different day? An ideal day. A day we dream up together." I try to make it clear that today isn't what I had in mind at all. Today, I am busy. Today is already in progress, scheduled with a series of things that have to happen. Not today.
"We can go today!" declares Isaac, 3. He goes to find his sandals.
There is only the moment, today, right now, when you are 8 or 3. Yesterday and tomorrow are still somewhat new concepts.
"Let's plan out a whole day of fun to do a different time. Something to look forward to together. Think about it with me. What would our perfect summer day be like?"
They lie down on the carpet and stare up at the ceiling to think and think, arms folded behind their heads as though they're watching clouds rather than staring up at the same textured plaster. I suggest we begin at the beginning.
"There would have to be breakfast," Sam volunteers. "We'd figure out the best restaurant in our area. Would that be Jimmy's Egg or Panera? Can you Google for some reviews?"
Sam has been raised in the age of technology. He knows how to approach a dilemma: crowd-sourcing.
"We could but you've been to both. Just choose one."
The allure of possibility and imagination finally trump pragmatism. It takes a little bit to leave technology behind, adjust and be fine on our own, even more so for adults.
"Well, we could go swimming at Pelican Bay for three hours and then it'd be lunch time, so we'd eat a picnic lunch in the park. Isaac and I would go play while you get the table ready and call us over to eat sandwiches with apple slices. Then, we'd go to Gattitown or the movies in the afternoon and after that, we could take a walk and watch the sun go down." The idea seemed to be growing even as the imaginary day ended. "Dad would bring out his telescope so we could see the stars. After that, we'd play Monopoly until the sun comes up again. There would be no bedtime and no one would yell at each other or feel upset at all for one whole day. It would be perfect," he concluded.
"What about Gabriel?" I ask, wondering where exactly our 5 month-old baby would be during this imagined scenario.
"He'd be with us. Swimming and all that. Gabriel could do it, right along with everyone, if you let him."
Give or take a few diapers and feedings, his estimation isn't impossible. I like the idea of being inclusive. We can all do so much, participate, if we let others, ourselves, everyone. No matter how old we get, I think we're all still waiting for permission to turn the sprinklers on in the yard to go run through them. Even when we own the sprinklers and the yard. Especially then.
We could work with those suggestions. When we unplug, take a break, shake up the routine, that's when the fun starts. Sometimes the very best days aren't planned after all.
"So when are we doing that?" Sam asks.
"As soon as we can," I say with all sincerity.
Living in the moment is my goal for this summer. I'm giving myself permission to enjoy today, now, with them, at 8, 3 and 5 months, because this time doesn't come back. Sure, there's work and there are schedules and messes and everything else, but there is also the here and now.
If you're looking for how to have fun this summer, check out MetroFamily's suggestions here, one for each of the 90+ remaining days. Take it as a challenge: can you have summer fun every single day from now until September?
Share your ideas to make it a great season by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.