Looking for some summertime fun?

June is more than half over and parents everywhere are anxiously puzzling over where to conveniently offload their kids for the rest of the summer.  Unfortunately, a California state budget that bled to death nearly a year ago has left parents without the familiar safety net of limitless summer school classes and school-sponsored recreation programs that they’ve grown accustomed to.

No longer can Mom and Dad expect a few hours of summertime silence while the kids are safely tucked away at the neighborhood elementary school learning how to draw polar bears and speak fluent Italian.  (Or draw Italian polar bears…)

What to do? What to do?

First – don’t panic.

Second – Remember that kids, given the freedom of an old-fashioned California summer, can think of plenty of ways to amuse themselves without having to drag a teacher, guidance counselor and three instructional aides along for the ride.  There’s lots to do out there without a set curriculum and – if you’re careful – without committing felonies.

Here are some surefire recipes for non-structured fun in the sun you can suggest when the kids begin complaining about being bored – or “underchallenged.”

* See how many times you can have your photo taken with SpongeBob SquarePants during zany promotions at regional shopping centers and auto dealerships.

* Go down to the crik and catch frogs.(Note: If you don’t know what a ‘crik’ is, ask your Uncle Wally).  Captured frogs can be humanely released in classrooms when school resumes in the fall.

* Visit all the karate studios in town and pretend that you think they’re Chinese restaurants. Demand a menu. Ask about the special of the day. Inquire about the Shanghai Squid.(Note: Remember, these are martial arts studios, so when the proprietors ask you to leave, it’s a good idea to do so.)

* See how many of your friends can sneak into the neighborhood adult book store without getting caught.  (Note: Sometimes this works better if participants dress up like elderly midgets and speak with thick, Eastern European accents. Nobody knows why…)

* Hang out at the mall. Visit a crowded women’s wear shop, throw yourself down on the floor and grab the nearest mannequin around the legs, wailing pitifully “Mooooooom, when are we gonna go hoooooome? Sis threw up on the escalator again and I’m tirrrrred!” (Note: Never attempt this twice in the same store on the same day and always try to leave before the security people arrive…).

* Skateboard from dusk to dawn.  (It’s fun and educational, too! Learn about interacting with grouchy pedestrians, compound fractures and cranial bleeding.)

* Get a summertime job and earn extra money for college.(Naaaaaaaaa…)

Originally published June 22, 2003