2010-08-05 / General Stories

Dog Days of Summer

If “hot” means “cool”, the dog days of summer aren’t so hot. Temperature-wise they are really hot. That’s why they are called “dog days.” What hot has to do with dogs, I’m not sure; unless you are talking about a frankfurter. Maybe it has something to do with the way a dog looks when it’s hot.

He’s lying in a nice cool place with tired eyes and a long slobbery tongue lolling out of his mouth. Come to think of it, that’s how I look on “dog days.”

Yeah, I guess I’m looking forward to the “cat days” of summer again. Never heard of “cat days?” That’s because I just made it up. Just now.

I shall now define “cat days” as those beautiful, breezy, sunny days that sometimes herald a thunderstorm. I love those days!

For some reason, those are the days I remember from my childhood. We would swim from dawn till dusk, because there wasn’t anything we’d rather do. So maybe those were actually the “fish days” of summer; not to be confused with the days we went fishing.

Do you remember growing up with your behind melded to a banana bike seat? My kids have used their bikes about the same number of times that I have told them to go outside and ride their bikes. They never just go “ride bikes” like we did. Riding bikes used to be the primary reason our friends wanted us to come outside.

We didn’t even have the words “play date” in our vocabulary. We left the house in the morning and didn’t come back until dinnertime. This was not a situation for which we had to be scolded because we worried our parents. This was highly-prized “me time” for our moms.

Of course, we do not live in the same world I grew up in. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but we had a great deal more freedom than our kids do now. The consequences of simply letting your kids go do what they want are too severe. I certainly don’t want to be that mom who loses a child due to her own negligence. I’d never forgive myself.

It’s a thin line we parents walk, however. If you are too watchful, you are labeled a “helicopter parent” who hovers over and decides their child’s every move. If you’re not watchful enough, you may see your child on a milk carton.

Having been a parent for 27 years, the best advice I can give you is to let your children enjoy the summer outside, but give them all the information they need to keep them out of harm’s way. Not just the what-not-to-dos, but the why-not-to-dos.

Tell them about the guy down the street who likes little boys. Tell them to never go anywhere by themselves because predators always hunt the one separated from the pack. Tell them they can’t go swimming unless an adult is present even if Johnny’s mom doesn’t think it’s necessary.

Give them the tools they need to make good decisions. Then you can both relax and enjoy the dog days, the cat days and the fish days of summer.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com

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