Dear Mitch,

As a graduate student working towards an M.A.T., I recently wrote a lesson plan designed to teach the young adolescents the importance of “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (one of my favorite songs) and how ‘wasting time’ should be encouraged in today’s youth.

When I read your view on”The Joys of Summer,” I felt inclined to reflect on how crucial ‘wasting time’ can be for the growth of a person–young or old.  You mentioned that when you think of your childhood summers, you “studied the clouds…joked with friends…none of [you] wore watches.”  I can only imagine how meaningful those experiences must have been for you and your friends!

Now, kids don’t wear watches because they all carry cell phones so that their parents and friends can reach them at the touch of a button–with all their functions nowadays, it’s hard to call them phones!  Although I am not yet a parent, I can appreciate your advice for parenting children in the summer: 1) Have a face-to-face conversation with a friend; 2) Read something; 3) Build something; 4) Get wet. A pool. A hose. A sprinkler. Whatever.

One suggestion I might add is the importance for kids to spend time (alone) with grandparents and other aunts and uncles.  The inherently invaluable lessons and experiences that come from ‘downtime’ in the summer with extended family–in my opinion–allows kids the freedom to interact with adults in a safe environment without parental oversight.  These memories can truly enrich the quality of life for families and bridge the generation gap.

Chicago, IL