It's summertime, where flip flops meet beaches, sun and sand abound, and I can't help but reminisce of my summers growing up in Miami. It's funny looking back and now that I have a daughter I want to pass down some of the things my parents did and we did as kids, ok maybe not giving my child beer. Even though some of the things we did seemed like so much work, I can now see the values and lessons learned from them.
1. Education First.
We had to go to summer school. Even though I was a straight A student and summer school was totally optional, my parent's always put education first and wouldn't dream of having the kids 8 weeks at home, "haciendo pereza." (doing laziness). Summer camps away & sleep overs? Over their dead bodies.
My takeaway: I loved school, I loved learning new things and when the regular school year started I was ahead.
For my daughter: I want to teach her that she should always be open to learning. Here I am, 8 or 9 years old at a summer music program.
2. "Al que madruga Dios le ayuda." (He who gets up at dawn God will help.)
We went to the beach...just not like your average family. My dad would make us get up at 7am so we could get a good spot with a grill in the shade near the beach. He'd say, "Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda." (He who gets up at dawn God will help.) And he was right. He'd load enough steaks, chicken, chorizos, and arepas to feed an army, no burgers or hot dogs for us. By 9am people were scrambling looking for grills and all that were left were in the sun, meanwhile we were having breakfast of arepa con carne and cafe con leche while blasting vallenatos, rancheras, boleros, salsa or merengue, whatever the mood was.
My takeaway: "The early bird catches the worm and doesn't get burned!"
For my daughter: I want to teach her that sometimes the extra effort is totally worth it, even though in the moment it may be difficult.
3. Summer Cleaning.
We cleaned a lot. From washing cars, cleaning the house, and garage sales in 100 degree heat, I remember my summers going through boxes of junk y haciendo limpieza (cleaning) before the new school year. My parents made us go through all our stuff, pick items that we no longer wore or played with, then would ask us to set prices for the garage sales. Whatever we sold we kept. Most of the time I priced everything too high, lol, but it was a great lesson. Whatever didn't sell would then be donated either to the church or Salvation Army.
My takeaway: At the start of something new it's good to get rid of the old and always give to others.
For my daughter: We have already started this. Every 3 months we go through her toys and she tells me what she no longer wants to play with. She then helps me get boxes ready for "los niños pobres." (the impoverished children) My favorite place to donate? One Toy at a Time.
4. Play outside & be active.
As kids we were outside all the time. We played outside with the hose. We rode our bikes. We played kickball, soccer, softball, or rollerbladed. Our neighborhood had about 20 kids and all the kids would gather at our backyard or we simply played in the street. It was so much fun. My mom would join us and jump rope or we'd double dutch. I remember thinking my mom was so cool because none of the other moms ever played with us.
My takeaway: If you're active as a kid you'll be active as an adult & play with your kids, they'll remember it for the rest of their lives.
For my daughter: I want to teach her to embrace being active so she can grow up to always embrace fitness for good health.
5. Be resourceful DIY is great.
Summers were very hot in Miami and we had to stay cool. My parents weren't about to buy us ice cream every day, so we made paletas (popsicles) at home. Way before Pinterest ever existed, my mama had it down. It was such a fun activity and the anticipation always killed me. I'd open the freezer every 20 minutes to see if they were ready. Now with Pinterest and Google you can make gourmet paletas at home. Check out our saved Pinterest pins and try out a paleta recipe!
My takeaway: You don't need a big budget to entertain kids.
For my daughter: I want to teach her that you can always find ways to have fun you just have to be a little resourceful.
6. You can make your own decisions but you have to live with them.
Every year we went clothes shopping for the start of the school year. I remember we used to go to JCPenney and Kmart, I don't think Target existed. My parents gave us each a budget for school clothes and pretty much left it up to us to buy whatever we wanted to buy. They empowered us to make our own decisions but we had to live with the results, because they wouldn't buy us clothes again (unless we had a major growth spurt). One year I remember I bought fewer more one of a kind items and that year I hated my wardrobe because it was so limited. I ended up borrowing my sister's clothes. I learned my lesson in budgeting and making the most out of your money.
My takeaway: A child can learn a lot when you empower them with decision making.
For my daughter: I want to teach her that she has choices in life but whatever decision she makes will affect the outcome, she has to weigh all her options.
7. Make time for family.
I remember every Friday or Saturday night, we'd do family game night. Every week was something different; maybe it was monopoly, parqués (the Colombian version of parcheesi), baraja o naipe(Spanish playing cards), or dominoes. The point was to spend time as a family for a few hours every week where we laughed, talked about what happened during the week, and kept a close eye on my cheating dad!
My takeaway: When you make time for your family, your family will make time to open up to you.
For my daughter: I want to teach her the importance of family bonding. Whether it's over dinner or over a game that her family is there for her to support her and listen.
Summers growing up Hispanic were definitely a trip. I have very fond and funny memories of my childhood that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I'd love for my daughter to have the same. Yes, times are different and things have changed, but at the core of it all the lessons and values I learned stand the test of time. I have my mami and papi to thank. Below my parents with me.
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