Thursday, May 29, 2014





               Top 10 Ways to Give Your Kid a 1970’s Summer

It is officially the end of May. The Pinterest pages, Facebook feeds, and family magazine features are loaded up with all the activities you should do with your kids summer. AS. IF.   As if we need more activities. MORE I say!  As if I am sitting here, ok, really lying here in my end of school year coma,  thinking, "OMG! I CANNOT wait to tackle that homemade moon sand recipe  we will dye ourselves with the skin of organic vegetables, then shape our homemade sand into a perfect replica of the Millenium Falcon! ” Or, “Why yes, I am going to schlep 4 kids to that new science museum two hours away, where we will eagerly wander through the exhibits,  each completing the 10 page scavenger hunt I created last night. Then we will come home and ‘discuss’ at great length the scientific theories we learned, because, brace yourself,  what if we don’t keep our minds active ALL summer? GASP!  Wait, hold it! We must, just MUST go to the dollar store and buy 125 pool noodles to construct a backyard water park! We will invite the neighborhood kids over, serve vegan popsicles,  watermelon chunks cut out like dolphins, and a vegetable crudité platter shaped like a palm tree.  And what summer pool party would be complete without nitrate, skin, meat, additive, and taste free hot dogs on gluten free buns covered in artisanal ketchup?

I am done. Sort of like I how I was done with the school year, but I am already done with summer. And by done, I mean I am done with all the forced smile inducing, uber planned and supervised, over the top  summer life experiences  I am supposed to provide for my kids. You know what I want my kids to experience this summer? The same type of summer I would have experienced in the late 1970’s.  The exact same one.  I survived it, and they will too. As a matter of fact, it must have been pretty memorable because 30 years later I can tell you exactly what it entailed. It entailed FUN. Fun we made all on our own. What. A. Concept.

My top 10 ways to give your 2014 kids a 1970’s summer.

.       Let them watch TV. Plenty of it. But only the TV Land channel. I want my kids to watch The Love Boat, The Carol Burnett Show, The Jefferson’s, Charlie’s Angels, My Three Sons, The Six Million Dollar Man,  Gilligan's Island, $100,000 Pyramid, and my personal favorite, Hart to Hart.  Seriously,  what little girl in the late 70’s  didn't want to be an amateur detective married to the CEO of Hart Industries, driving around in a yellow Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster, while sporting a matching lilac pant suit and  perfectly coiffed butterfly winged wavy brown hair?  Because I sure as hell did.

2.       Eat whatever you  want, and/or whatever can find.  There will be no more pantries full of organic vegetable chips, and non-GMO graham crackers. No more refrigerators full of anti-pesticide fruit, free range eggs, and cold pressed juice.  This will be the summer of Frito-Lay and Red Dye #5. I want to see my kid’s reaction when I tear open a tiny envelope of cherry Kool-Aid, sprinkle it into a BPA laden plastic pitcher, dump 4 cups of regular, granulated, white, and maybe even generic sugar (not raw, stevia, or agave,) then add water from the tap, and  viola! You are hydrated! I will be over here drinking a Tab. Lunch will be fried bologna and a blue can of Planter’s Cheese Balls, and for dinner we will pile in the car and go pick up a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a styrofoam quart of mashed potatoes,  and O. M. Geee, dessert will be pineapple upside cake! Made from canned pineapples in…….wait for it……syrup!

3.       Make them play outside. Like all day. All. Damn. Day. Hot? Drink from the hose. Run through the sprinklers. Swim in the pool until your hair feels like straw, turns green, and the bottom of your feet are calloused from the bottom of the pool. Search for ladybugs, play hide ‘n seek between the houses, run down the street gutters after a rain storm. Read under a tree. I hear this lady named Judy Blume writes good stuff.

4.       Send them to the movies for the entire day. I will drop you off at around 11 and pick you up for dinner. Its’ real simple. You sneak from one theater to the next. Nobody cares.

5.       Spend three nights in a row at your best friend’s house. No, you don’t have to call to check in every hour. And yes,  it’s totally ok their parents will be at work and nobody will be home all day. It will give you plenty of time for #1, 2, and 3.

6.       Make stuff, like from stuff you find. No trips to Hobby Lobby for pre-cut, pre-stuck, pre-fabricated crafts.   Find crap in the garage and assemble it into something you can play with. No, you can’t Google how to do it. Ropes are fun.

7.       Have them put on a talent show. A  real, genuine, sing and dance and entertain the hell out of me talent show.  I promise I won’t upload it to Youtube or share it on Facebook. I pinky swear. No, there is no theme, no requirements, no directions, no anything. No, there is no right way to do it. You have an imagination. Please use it.

8.       Play this until you want to throw it against the wall, or smash into 1,000 pieces.  It’s the original train your brain app.


9.       Build a fort in the backyard. No, I am not gonna help. Yes, you can use the $125 Pottery Barn Kids duvet cover from your bed. I don’t care anymore. Making a memory trumps 400 thread count cotton.

10.   Finally, learn to find the amazing in the ordinary. Trust me. You will need this skill in your 40’s. I pinky swear. 


65 comments :

Donna Blommel said...

This is so true of our 70's summers. Hope the boys have a great summer experiencing the way we grew up.

Roy and Sarah said...

Absolutely hilarious!

Katy @ Experiencedbadmom.com said...

I spent an entire summer being babysat by the Price is Right. And I loved it! fun, fun, post about chilling out.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Fenton, you are so talented as a comic, as a true story teller. That is rare. Your timing is unbelievable! I was laughing so hard at parts my stomach started to hurt. Please keep your writings coming. I am now saying to people "Have you read her?".....

hopesmom said...

Thank you for giving me a glimpse of my childhood summers. I had almost forgotten how fabulous I had it. More please!

Nicole Elliott said...

Hahahahaha I love this so much XD Thank you for writing this! I needed it today!

Heather Grace Stewart said...

How does this only have 6 comments?
I guess the parents not commenting are too busy planning perfect summer activities?
I was drinking from a hose with my 9 year old this weekend, and splashing around in a kiddie pool with her. Yes I actually got in there. We also watched Gilligan's Island and I swear I hadn't read this yet!! lol

You are a fantastic writer and I hope you have a wicked 70s summer - I know I will!

@hgracestewart on Twitter :)

Heather

Laura Yates said...

YES! Love all of this.

Kelly Hudson said...

I think we must have shared the same summer! Except I wanted to be "Josie" and my friends were the "Pussycats"! Thanks for taking me back to a great time and I do want to share that summer with my kids. And can you believe we did it with out cell phones!
Have a great summer!

cwoody said...

So, it was the 80s, but I spent a summer babysitting a three year old who was infatuated with ET. He had probably 4 -6 hours of screen time daily ... I still can't watch that movie.

And, careful, some of your boys are now old enough for VC Andrew. :)

LOVE this. Nothing like a good game of Charlie's Angels, followed by Lost in Space to keep the day fun.

Eve I-Ate-Your-Damn Apple said...

I'm thinking of taking the summer off from work so I can have a 70s summer too. Or maybe they'd let me watch TV Land on Netflix? I don't know. I'm gonna ask management and see.

Anonymous said...

How refreshing. Love your sense of humor sprinkled with lots of reality.

ShuKranS said...

I love it! I love it you! I'm from Belize. We play outside in the dirt, climb trees to pick ripe juicy mangos, eat raw cut sweet cane, eat tonsa salted sour plums etc and ran around with sticks in our hands, as kids. Best memories! I've lost that since living in California. Time to bring back those fun things for my kids. Happy summer everyone! ♡

Anonymous said...

You had me @ Hart to Hart. I love her, want to be her, & want to live in their house! Oh & have that hair...This was hilarious & I really enjoy your voice. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

This is most awesome...sigh. Just had a conversation about these very same things with a co-worker this week. I always say, "It sucks getting old but I wouldn't trade when I grew up for anything in the world." We played until we were dirty, smelly and nearly dropped in our tracks from being worn out.

lab5 said...

This is so amazing!!!! I am totally inspired. Totally! Good work!

Liz Carey said...

Love! One year I tried to get my kids to build a trebuchet, do an analysis of the water in our backyard pond, read Animal Farm and calculate the amount I would have to start saving now if they wanted to go to college. They threatened to call the Department of Social Services on me for cruel and inhumane punishment... Maybe this week I'll hide the controllers and mice and throw them out in the yard... the tent's up, after all...

Kathy Obrien said...

lmao literally! you really did grow up in the 70's! I hate when people pretend they know what the heck they're talking about and they don't you obviously grew up with parents like mine who let you do kids stuff and didn't overthink it. By the way my children pretty much get to do it every summer so I recommend it for everyone every summer!

kristaquinby said...

Hart to Hart. Yes! My parents never had to limit my TV - there was never anything on I wanted to watch. That is, once She-Ra was over. My kids have too many damn choices.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea and great article, except for the part about watching a program called "The Bionic Man." There never was a tv show by that name...

bridget said...

so refreshing and real---loved it!

Renee said...

Excellent! I was born in 1972 so I can identify with this, totally. Funny my husband and I were just talking about this very thing, he was born in 1960..times have indeed changed.

Anonymous said...

BEST POST EVER!!!! Love this so much!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

ROFL!!! This was my life as a child of the 70's! I think my kids are WAY too spoiled. Thanks to this article, that's going to change this summer :)

Julie said...

You instantaneously just became my hero.... I've got 3 boys.... working on the hubs for approval for the 4th, and I just LOVE this post, and now want to play Simon Says :)

Kyra Wilson said...

Agreed! Absolutely agreed! I'm tired of the guilt of not doing all those things everyone else does for their kids. My parents threw me out the back door, I can do that with mine too. :)

Jennifer said...

You are amazing! Funny and poignant. I was just having a discussion with a friend the other day that being a child in the 1970's was a simple time with simple pleasures and feel kinda bad for our kids who don't know what to do without BEING entertained. I'm feeling nostalgic.

Jeffrey Francis said...

Melissa! This made my day! I laughed inside connecting with absolutely everything you shared! It's amazing how we forget the real "good 'ol days" that existed in our life time! I am going to try several of these things with my kids this summer and let them get a taste.
Anyway, thanks for sharing!
Judi

Sandrakay said...

This is the entire reason my husband and I live 10 miles from even the outskirts of town. We can let our boys play outside and never worry about it. I want them to enjoy being kids not couch potatoes.

Unknown said...

I loved this. I was born in the 60s and I can relate to nearly every aspect of this post. Brilliant!

2 Kids and Tired Books

Micki Gibson said...

Love this post! Would you allow the game show network as approved TV watching? I recall gorging on The Price is Right, Card Sharks, and Wheel of Fortune with Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford (pre-Pat and Vanna). Today's menus shall consist of Pop Tarts, Kraft Mac'n Cheese, and for dinner, whatever box of cereal we have in the pantry. Oh, we're out of milk? Tough. Eat it without.

jcuckma said...

Love this! We watched the Jefferson's today and I remembered the whole theme song! Great stuff!

Larry said...

You brought back some memories from my childhood. 80's for me. I would add have a contest to see who can catch more lightning bugs at night.

Doria said...

You are hilarious! Thank you for the "I could of had a V-8 moment." This summer will be different and I thank you for the encouragement.
A few days before I read your post, my son came out and sat beside me at the pool with a plate of fried cheese he made himself. My response... "Awesome." This is going to be a great summer!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my summers in the 1960s. Out in the morning, lunch, out 'til Dad whistled for dinner, out 'til dark. I don't know what-all we did, but we were busy!

M said...

My most helpful mothering mantra has always been "I am a mom of the 70's"

Unknown said...

YES!! YES!! YES!! I miss those times so much. My kids had summers exactly like we had! LOVE your writing!

Anonymous said...

Yes! You are my hero! I'm so glad that another mother out there questions this modern notion that we are supposed to be our children's playmates/source of constant stimulation for weeks on end. Go be a kid!!!

Anonymous said...

love, love, love this post!Thanks for the reality check, I needed it! I know my two boys will appreciate it! You Rock, seriously!!

Christine Enderby said...

I LOVE THIS!!!! Especially TV Land! And Simon Says.... I'm with you sister :)

micheleandbob said...

No kidding sister! These were the best summers, the most magical. Thanks for the look back.

1girl,3boys Mommy

the Villager said...

I love this and would love to do it. Unfortunately for this child of the 70's, doing numbers numbers 3, 4, or 5 these days will get you criminally charged for neglect and can result in your kids being taken away if anyone notifies the police or makes a call to Family Services. Not me, but a compelling and chilling story: http://www.salon.com/2014/06/03/the_day_i_left_my_son_in_the_car/

Emilia said...

Thanks, I needed to read this to ease my guilt. Since I have joined the online community,I receive lots of posts on how to make your child's year the most exciting year ever! with crafts,home made games, home made toys,days filled with wonder, joy and creativity. I have this idea of being a ever creative, DIY caregiver and mother, I have this dream of setting up a prefect environment where my child will never be bored and always busy doing...This image was largely created by browsing thru blogs of super creative super moms. Because I fail short in comparison with those talented and well organized moms, I felt like failure...I bet that Albert's Einstain's mother was not a Pinintntrest's addict... What children need most are few open-ended materials, freedom to move, play outside, get dirty,have playmates, and parents that hover less and relax more.
Emilia

vintagerecycling said...

can't stop laughing, it's all so true!

Cassandra Cox said...

I'm all for this, but in your 70's summer, you wouldn't have had to worry aboyt the prospect of the GMO's. There is such thing as going over board.
As for the rest of it, abso-bloody-lutely!

Candice said...

Ha! I loved this post. Being a mom of 5 boys I am all over a simple, make your own fun, relaxed summer! Thanks for sharing :)

Ann Woodruff said...

Loved this. So funny, so real, and so 70's since I lived it. Perfect.

Anonymous said...

I'd add a number 11 to your list - make them ride their bikes everywhere. No mommy taxi.

And #12 - you can go anywhere you want, but you must either be home by dinner or be calling from a friend's house who has invited you for dinner.

Anonymous said...

I am a product of the 70's summers and I read your article on Huff Post this am. I LMFAO!! I'm so tired of hearing how darn busy every mother/kid is. Your article is a testament to kids really living rather than another check in the box next to the things you're pressured into doing because all the other mom's and their kids are. Well Done!!

Jennifer Jones said...

Tears running down my face. this is awesome. i am thoroughly inspired.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess I'm the lone holdout - because as much as I enjoyed all that stuff in the actual 70s, you simply couldn't (or shouldn't) let kids do all that stuff today.

Why would you want to feed your kids stuff laden with food dye and toxic pesticides out of toxic plasticware? Lots of us DIDN'T survive this, or at least didn't survive unscathed, including the multitudes with the kinds of cancer diagnoses we have had increasingly for the last 30 years as that 70s generation ages. We didn't know about the dangers of solvents or pesticides or food additives, or even how very bad the stuff inside garden hoses can be for you.

These days, leaving a couple of kids alone at a friend's house can lead to the sorts of disasters that didn't really exist back then. And even then, unattended kids got into some bad messes, even without the Internet and soft core porn on regular tv during the daytime and the kind of creeps roaming around that we now know about, but who got by back then because we were so darn innocent and kids were more afraid to tell their folks about weird stuff that happened.

There are plenty of things you mention that I'd love to have kids today able to enjoy, but we've changed the world - or allowed it to be changed by companies who use toxic substances to the point where unfiltered tap water and the water in the roadway raingutters are actual harmful, especially if used regularly.

I'm sorry the world is the way it is, but do you really want your kids watching an entire day of the kinds of movies we have now? The sex and violence in today's movies wouldn't have been thought of then.

Lindsey said...

Hilarious. So good. Love. xox

Carrie @ lovely etc. said...

But where oh where can we find those delicious cheese balls in the blue can? I would do many embarrassing things to get my hands on some!

Toulouse said...

I saw this floating around the interwebs this week and just now got a chance to read it. I love it so much I want to marry it and have its babies. All boys, of course. Thanks for such an awesome essay.

Michael Green said...

This was my summers as a kid. Going home was timed with the street lights going on, and even then, not really until the first parents called their kids home.

Here in the Seattle area, at the end of every July, fathers would grab their kids, go to the shed or the garage, show them where the scrap wood was, and tell us to go build wood hydroplane models, which we would then drag behind our bikes, racing like we were driving the real things on Lake Washington.

And as for TV Land, my girl friend and I were watching (though not on TV Land)Wonder Woman, when her 12 year old son came into the bedroom, saw what we were watching, and became instantly enthralled (but I expect that it was Linda Carter's costume more than, say, the writing or acting).

Amy said...

I loved your piece about giving kids a "70s summer." Your final comment about finding the amazing in the ordinary is true of an art form that started to come into its own in the late 1960s/70s: American haiku.

Haiku -- which is essentially nature poetry; and senryu, which focuses on people and relationships -- are delightful "tools" kids can use to connect with their surroundings in creative -- and creatively unfettered -- ways.

My late mom, Sydell Rosenberg, was a school teacher and a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, founded in 1968. Today, years after her death in 1996, I am doing what I can to keep her lovely work alive with young audiences via partnerships with arts education organizations such as Arts For All and the Children's Museum of the Arts (both in NY).

Haiku captures "nature in nuggets," as I like to say, so it's perfect for outdoor, en plein air activities: reading, writing, drawing, painting -- or just observing. While there is a structure to haiku, it's as much about the process -- the experience -- as the "final result." It's a compact, concise yet highly evocative literary form, and kids can have fun with this form. As they "play with" haiku, it can help to nurture an appreciation of literacy, word play, visual thinking and the world around them.

Below is an article about the importance of teaching poetry in schools. My partnership with Arts For All is included. I've also taken the liberty of including a blog about my PoeTree project with the Children's Museum of the Arts.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to contact you about my idiosyncratic endeavors to help nurture kids' creativity. Kind regards, Amy Losak

http://blog.cmany.org/featured-artists/poetree/

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/04/16/why-its-important-teach-poetry-schools

MTMC said...

I love this and yes, yes, yes!!!! Agree 100%!

RhoRho said...

I absolutely loved this and share the hell out of it! Thank you!

http://momwhodrinksandcusses.blogspot.com/2014/06/supermoms-make-me-barf-what.html

Phillip Masters said...

Funny and true. Also spent my elementary years in the 70's.
But concerning nitrate and gluten free which some think is a hoax. I for one am glad I do not have random explosive diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches, excessive seasonal allergies and a general angst at life since I now eat FREE of these additives or ingredients. I still drink coke, pepsi and heaven forbid mountain dew with all the sugar and caffeine so off to an adventure with my dranddaughter!

McNeely Family said...

Love this so VERY much! Sista, u rock!

Wendy Brown said...

SO TRUE! We would play Olympics on the swing set. I was Nadia Komenichi and tried to do a dismount from the trapeze swing and landed on my stomach, knocking the wind out of me. Or swinging super high then jumping off to see who could land the farthest away. I miss the 70's sometimes. Such a GREAT idea for kids today to experience and NO technology needed. Bravo! :)

Michele Blondin said...

192Loved it an shared it on my facebook. I have 5 kids, three of them boys and I can so relate. Rock on Girl!!

Anonymous said...

love this story. thank you for writing about a long gone era. i miss and loved the 70's.

Douglas A. L. said...

You nailed it!! I sat here and laughed my ass off reading through your 70's summer suggestions!!! I also found your responses to the negative nitwits quite entertaining as well!!!

GibbyMac said...

Most of this post, I think, is about savoring summer. It is also satirical, so laugh, it is funny! It is not to be taken so literal, I do not believe. You know you laughed!! :)