I have never told anyone this. I don’t want to tell, because I don’t want to steal the joy from all the people who love a great bucket list of fun summertime activities to stave off the boredom and the whining, and to create amazing summer memories. These people are my friends. I love my friends. My friends have good ideas. So I’ll tell you about the time I took a friends’ good idea and sat down with my kids, and asked them to brainstorm all the fun things they wanted to do while they were out of school for summer.
My kids are detailed brainstormers. Our list wasn’t full of “pool” and “treat”; it was like “spend three hours at the Jack Carter pool in Plano”, “Go to Klyde Warren park and get a Bahn Mi from that one food truck”, “Get a creamy Strawberry Popsicle from Steel City Pops” and “order a medium sized pineapple snowcone with sprinkles from Bahama Bucks.” It was so much fun making our list. I made sure we balanced the sweet and costly ideas with some ideas that were sugar-free and $$ free. Arbor Hills made the list, as did the Dallas Zoo, Nicklerama, Whiffle Ball at Heights Park, and the noodle bar at Royal China. I loved the list, and my kids were stoked. I thought we were off to a smashing start to our summer break.
But guess what happens to (some?) kids when you give them a list of 30 fun activities to try and check off in a nine-week span? Your kids *may* begin to think that every new week entitles them to great joy and creativity, brought to you by Mom. They suggest a different item from the list as a good idea for that day, and they wake up and say things like “what fun thing are you taking us to today Mom?”
While I totally get the fun factor, I am that mean mom who (secretly! anonymously!) hates on the summer bucket list. Wonder why? Because a list of fun things to consume means my kids will never get bored. Because then they assume this world revolves around them. Because it steals from them the opportunity to get really bored, and then really curious, and then really clever. I love how Dorothy Parker puts it: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
I didn’t like what our list did in my kids, and selfishly it also stole some of the joy in giving as well. Instead of getting to surprise my kids, and getting to delight them with a gift or experience, they expected the gift. In fact, I had taught them to expect it by creating and posting a list of activities to expect. Fail.
So this year, we are re-running what we did last year: a Secret Summer Serving List. We didn’t tell anyone else that we had a list like this, last year (#tellingtheinternet #nolongersecret). The kids and I will sit down and make a list of some ways we can serve or love on others. Their kid brainstorming cracked me up: Yes, we can take a stack of leaves to Mrs. Dianne down the street, Yes, let’s drop off a rotisserie chicken to the librarian. Let’s bring groceries to that refugee family that we met, and let’s have coffee with Ms. Joy who is always so kind to us at Central Market. These are the types of kid expectations I would love to meet and exceed. And when my kids wake up on a summer morning suggesting we go deliver rotisserie chickens today, instead of suggesting something that fulfills their own desires, it brings the whole family joy — and it brings joy to others, as well.
So on the way home, we should probably stop at Bahama Bucks for a pineapple snow cone, with sprinkles. Even more fun since they weren’t expecting it.