What kids love most about summer vacations is the unstructured time and absence of pressure! May 7, 2012

As the heat rises and vacations begin for the kids, I am taken back to the memories of how we spent summer vacations as children. In Mumbai, were we lived from ’81 to ’87, we had cousins from Goa visit us during summer and we traveled there at times as well. I was among the youngest in that group and I got teased incessantly. We played a lot of make believe games, full of role play and imagination. We played carrom, ludo, snakes and ladders and a host of indoor games. With my parents, whenever I could catch them (usually during travels), I played Scrabble and card games like Rummy, which my dad loved!

Wherever we were, home or in Goa or Bangalore (where my maternal grandparents lived), we were usually homebound. Days went by in a routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner interspersed with games, gossip, snoozes and snacks. Occasional treats like outings to the beach or museum did happen, but they were…well, occasional. We didn’t think of complaining. We were fine with the pace of our lives. Of course, we also said “I’m bored” 50 times a day like kids do now, but we were happy to be handed over another book to re-read, or another board game. Many a time, we were just asked to shut up and take ourselves away! And we did!

Later, in Lucknow, we had a teenage gang and hung out together doing stuff as varied as 100-piece jigsaw puzzles, endless card games, watching VCRs, talking and even reading together!

What made my childhood and especially the summer vacations a joy was the unstructured time we spent with our friends. Schooldays signified the shackles of a time-bound regime and holidays meant we could live in our alternate world till a parent or house help dragged us away for lunch or dinner!

Despite the plans I am making for my kids’ vacations, I know in this, the world has not changed. Udai and Aadyaa truly prefer the company of their friends over any class or scheduled activity. It is our failing as parents that we are unable to create safe, supervised space and time for this to happen all through the summer. We need to resort to some structured activities to tide us through! Hopefully, I will be able to negotiate a balance so they can enjoy both!

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