Summer Slowdown: Rediscovering The Beauty Of Waiting

by Dawn Papandrea
Originally Published: 

Remember how annoying it was when you put your favorite cartoon in the VCR and had to wait for it to rewind all the way back to the beginning? Or how you waited all week to see your favorite cartoon because it only came on Saturday mornings? And a few years later, you were staying up late just to watch Friday Night Videos (remember that?).

What about movie theater lines that went around the block in the pre-Fandango days? And for the love of the Internet, if you would just take a moment to remember what it was like to surf the Web with dial-up, buffering videos and pages that take four seconds to load probably wouldn’t have you incessantly clicking your mouse wondering, “What’s taking soooo long?’

But all of that waiting and wanting builds character, doesn’t it? That’s why it drives me nuts when my kids have the audacity to whine when a commercial comes on (because they very rarely have to sit through them). Or complain about wait times at amusement parks when it hasn’t been more than three minutes. Or scream when we’re sitting at a red light (although my hubby will admit they’ve inherited his driving impatience).

Please don’t equate me with one of those “I walked uphill in the snow—both ways!” kind of parents, but think about this: Our 21st-century kids will never know what it feels like to wait by the phone for a girl or boy to call and freak out if someone else in the family decides to tie up the line. Do they even know what a busy signal is? But those were the days, when summers seemed endless and countdowns to Christmas felt like forever and waiting for the ice cream truck or the first pitch of the Mets game was a nightly ritual.

It saddens me to admit the fact that I lost my ability to wait. What busy parent can’t relate to always running here, rushing there, and hating the feeling of wasting precious time because he or she is stuck sitting in a doctor’s office (especially without Wi-Fi!) or in line at the grocery store? I tick off in my mind all of the things I could be—should be—getting done. So when the kids see us zipping around with our to-do lists with all of our tech gadgets in hand, multitasking our way through our manic days, is it any wonder that they pick up the same urgency to get to the main event already?

That’s why while we’re still in the midst of summer for a few more weeks, I’ve decided to adopt an official summer slowdown policy. Why don’t you join me? There’s nothing wrong with welcoming a little lazy into our lives sometimes, right? Hopefully the slower “stop and smell the roses” pace will rub off on the kids a little, so that maybe, just maybe, another summer doesn’t blow by us before we blink. And with a wonderful summer to cling to, maybe they won’t feel like they need to hurry up and grow so fast. Because growing up and then watching your kids do the same happens way faster than I’d ever imagined.

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