When it comes to waxing poetic about why I love being a parent during the summer more than any other season, I know I could start writing my reasons down and not stop until they pried my cold fingers off of this keyboard here if I wanted to.
Let's face it, summer has no equal when it comes to being a mom or a dad. Even if you added up all of the reasons why the other seasons are cool or fun or exciting, my guess is that you wouldn't even come close to matching the number of reasons parents and their children love summertime so much.
So, without much fanfare, let me give you my top 10 reasons why this dad prefers even the hot, sticky dog days of August to any other time of the year.
At this point in my life, at 41 years old, I rarely wake up during the summer and look out the window and fail to thank my lucky morning stars that the sun is peeking up over the horizon (although, I do NOT thank my lucky stars for early 5 AM alarms). Knowing that you can count on most days of the summer to be hot and sunny, the kind of days that more or less welcome you and the kids to end up outside somewhere, is something that is never lost on me after the long cold winter...or the endless, indecisive spring.
2. Real Playing
I don't care what anyone else says; there is still no substitute for kids playing outside under a bright blue sky. You cannot buy a video game that comes close to simulating it, and you will never ever own an app that can re-create it. Kids sleep better, feel better, eat better, and by default, often behave better after they have been running and rolling around in the outdoors. In a park, at camp, on the ball field, in the backyard, at the beach, or wherever my two young kids (4 and 2) may end up with me during those long sunshiny days, I know by comparison that they never seem healthier or more alive than they do in summertime.
Yes, I know, there is lots of swimming to be done year-round, thanks to the indoor pools at rec centers and schools just about everywhere and anywhere there are kids. So call me old fashion if you need to, but I still think most kids love swimming outside in the summer way more than inside some indoor chlorine-smelling aircraft hangar. Next time you leap into a secret swimming hole on a stream, or jump a couple waves at the beach with your kids, take one look at their faces and tell me they don't seem about as happy as humanly possible.
4. Lightning Bugs
I realize that many people in many parts of the world don't have lightning bugs, or fireflies, to chase around every summer evening and for that I can only say: I am truly sorry. Because when I step out into our Pennsylvania backyard with my son and daughter right at dusk in late July, and I hear the rising thrill in my kids' voices as they try and comprehend just how many zillions of these little shooting star insects there are out here, I know we are some of the lucky ones when it comes to this true summer legend.
5. Ice Cream
This one is easy. Summertime and ice cream just go together; they always have and they always will. And I think it's kind of telling that the best season of all is also the one when ice cream is the most popular. See? Our kids are no dummies... they know a good thing when they taste it.
If, by chance, you have yet to take your young kids (or even your older kids) fishing this summer, please take my advice and go! You don't have to be any kind of an expert and you only need some basic, inexpensive gear. My kids love to tag along with me fishing sometimes. We only go for short periods of time and only to spots where I feel like we have a really good chance to catch something. And although we have rarely hooked much yet, we have still made some great memories (and awesome photos) every single time we went. And that says a whole lot about a great summer pastime, I think.
7. Going for Walks
No matter where you live, in the big city or the vast suburbs or way out in the country, summertime is the best time to introduce your kids to the long lost art of taking a little walk around. Pick a path or just wing it, but take your kids out on an evening walk and show them the sights and sounds of their own hometowns and you can bet that before long they will be asking you if it's time for your walk instead of asking you to change the channel on the TV.
Summer is the time when families traditionally take a vacation together and so that puts the season at the top of the heap right there if you ask me. To the beach, to the mountains, to a foreign land or to a campground right down the road, it doesn't really matter so much where you guys are all going together as much as it matters that you're all going. Together. We took our two kids to the Jersey Shore this past June and in one week's time, I probably smiled more than I have since I was their age. And that counts for something.
9. Driving with the Windows Down
Man, do I love driving around with the kids strapped into their seats in the back of our car with the windows down. For me, it is one of the greatest things about summertime, without a doubt. Why? Well for one thing: I miss the sound of the wind and the blast of the road rushing by when the windows are always up. Plus, I have to be honest: when those windows are all down it is a lot harder to hear each other, so when Violet and Henry begin to feel like complaining or fighting or whatever toddler shenanigans they get up to while I am trying to drive, it usually doesn't last long because no one can even hear them!
10. Time With Each Other
Carnivals and fairs, beaches and walks, fishing trips and messing around in the yard, there are just so many opportunities in the summer to be together, as a family. We see each other a little more. We laugh together a little more. And we eat ice cream together a little more.
See? I told you summer was the best season.