When I was a child, defining summer fun was up to us kids. “Bored” was my mother’s favorite word. “Boredom is an attitude,” she liked to say. “If you have a good attitude, it breeds creativity!” Turns out studies agree with my mom.
We didn’t have money for summer camps or many activities, but we looked forward to each and every day of summer. My mother would load us up with a big breakfast, pack us brown bag lunches, and send us out the door with three rules:
1) don’t come home until suppertime unless someone is bleeding or crying
2) be respectful and don’t get into any trouble and
3) help at least one person.
We knew she was serious about all three.
On one perfect summer day between the 1st and 2nd grades, we ate a breakfast of blackberry pancakes (my pick and my favorite), and then my friends and I spent an hour or two racing our bikes around our neighborhood.
Eventually, we wandered over to the small farm across a large field behind our housing complex in Renton. We asked Mrs. Wilson, the farmer’s wife if she needed any help, and she pointed us to her overladen blueberry bushes.
An hour later, we handed her a teeming bucket and then dilly-dallied back to my back yard where we made up a play, presented it to a group of our younger siblings, and forgot all about the berries.
When Mrs. Wilson dropped by after dinner with a bronze-crusted blueberry pie, I began to understand the truths behind my mother’s rules: long unplanned hours are the heart of summer, respect builds community, and kindness, more often than not, begets kindness.
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