During the school year I spend plenty of time with my son, but it’s a lot of shuffling from one activity to the next. Walking him to school takes ten minutes and picking him up is the same. We chat about nothing then we arrive home with homework to be done, rooms to be cleaned; baths to be drawn. Other days are filled with basketball practice and school activities. On weekends we go to the movies or sports events. Or play games in the evening (just got Monopoly this year!), watching X Factor or Masterchef. Then it’s time for bed, getting ready to roll out a new day.
Summer vacation in Italy lasts from June to mid September, more than three months. We’re super fortunate to have a summer house in the south of Italy, where my husband is from. It’s only a five minute walk to the Ionian Sea with crystal blue water to swim in. A sea breeze that blows lightly every day, rustling the palm trees in the garden. This is where Evan has always spent his summer vacations. Grandma’s always there and cousins, aunts and uncles come and go. There’s no television and the internet connection depends on how strong the wind is blowing. There’s lots of card playing, reading and exploring. It’s a total de-stress for me, so I decided that this year I’d spend all of July at the beach house.
“Wanna play something?”
We were on the beach, taking a walk, getting our feet wet in the water. I’m not usually a “play” person. During the year I have a million work projects, then dinner has to be cooked and I have to get to bed at a certain hour or else I won’t be able to get up and work out.
“Okay, sure… what do you want to do?”
He got two sticks and made up a game where the first stick to float to the other side of the stream won. There was no expertise to it, but I watched enchanted as the two sticks bobbed up and down with the currents. We did it five or six times and then the game was over.
The next day he had a new game, at a freshwater spring that flows into the sea. The water is freezing and refreshing with a mild current. Starting from the spring, we floated in the water to see who arrived at the sea opening first (he did). That was done over and over again all morning. He won every time, which provoked discussion on body weight and floatation.
Later there was ping pong and bocce and guitar playing (I don’t know how to play any musical instrument!).
I noticed that I started going out on my bike and running without my watch. It was suddenly freeing to just go, no mileage or time or specific exercises. I know for my training I have to have structure; I actually love that. But I also see where I really need to just play. No goal, no objective. Simple play. Not just with my running, but with life in general.
File under lessons learned from a 9 year old boy!