I have a new post up for the “Moms Decide” section of Parents.com, “What Summer Camp Has to Do with Obama’s Tax Plan.” It begins:
My memories of summer include bug bites, games of kick-the-can, swimming lessons, and countless hours curled up in a chair reading. My kids have finally reached the age where they experience summer the way I remember it. Penny, who is 6 ½, and William, almost 4, go to camp two days a week. They swim, do arts and crafts, play on the playground, and make new friends. The highlight of camp so far has been Penny receiving her “duck badge” when she swam from one side of the pool to the other and earned the right to swim in the deep end.
The other three weekdays vary. They’ve gone with their babysitter to the playground and the library. We’ve taken trips to the beach with plastic buckets and water shoes, and they’ve scraped their knees and thrown rocks and collected as many varieties of seaweed as they can find. We’ve created obstacle courses in the front yard. Most days they wander next door to visit their great-grandmother. They know the afternoons hold “quiet times” while their sister Marilee, who is 18 months old, takes a nap. Penny has learned how to read books out loud to herself. William has started writing in a journal. They’ve almost forgotten the TV exists.This simple experience of play and learning and exploring and resting seems to me like a quintessential American summertime, and yet I was reminded recently that my children’s summer is a mark of privilege. As David Brooks wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times, “The children of the more affluent and less affluent are raised in starkly different ways and have different opportunities.” Using recent data from Harvard researcher Robert Putnam, Brooks outlines the distinctions in time, money, and experiences offered to children from different socio-economic backgrounds. Brooks notes that these differences have increased dramatically over the course of the past few decades. Income inequality has led to an ever-growing opportunity gap for children.
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