Summer’s here! Time to swim out, not sit in

When I grew up as a young boy in Bacolod City in the 1970s, our family owned one 14-inch black-and-white TV set. Voltes V was my favorite cartoon show. I also loved how Popeye gobbled up that can of spinach, turned muscular, punched Brutus, then won over the thinnest creature shown on TV, Olive. How often did I sit fronting the boob tube? Once a week. For 30 minutes. Maybe even less.

The PlayStation 3 did not exist. The XBox 360, one of today’s most popular gaming devices, wasn’t invented by Bill Gates. Motorola Rzor cell phones weren’t produced. The iPod was a thick box with a cassette tape twirling inside named the Walkman. The Internet? It was decades away and the only “surfing” people understood was on the beach above a surfboard.

That was the 1970s.

Today, young ones clasp with 10 fingers the PSP (for the “young once,” that’s Sony’s popular toy, the PlayStation Portable). Cable TV channels boast of thousands of shows named Kim Possible, Mr. Bean, Raven, and Totally Spies. Today, six-year-olds can “txt” with their eyes closed.

What has this made the world?

It has made our children fat. Lazy. It has made them think less. Sweat less. Do less. It has made them crawl to the computer to E-mail their best friend instead of saying the old-fashioned “I’ll call you!” and talking for two hours on the phone. It has made our children reclusive. Introverts. Like turtles, they turn inside their shells, inside their rooms, inside their computers, inside their friendster accounts. Take this example: Instead of going out to join a karate class, today’s children would rather play a martial arts videogame with a joystick.

Sad?

Very, very sad.

So here we are, once more, back in this season called Summer. The question is asked of every parent, “What do I let my children do?”

My advice? Go out.

During the next 60 days, when the sun is burning and the skies are light blue and it’s 34 degrees outside and the clouds are puffy and white—take your child out. Literally. Take her out.

Enroll your son on an aikido program. Buy him those white martial arts overalls, let him kick, jump, block and punch. Let him do all those acts in front of a teacher, beside other children—and not on some PlayStation game.

Go out.

Enroll her in a tennis clinic. There are dozens of programs available: Sancase Tennis Club, Casino Espanol, and the Cebu Country Club—which will have national coach Butch Bacani as it’s head.

Basketball? Badminton? Football? Swimming? Bowling?

Every single sport that has a field or a pool or a court or an alley will have a summer program this season. What to join? It’s all up to you. It’s all up to your child.

Not interested in sports? No problem. There are so many other choices available: classes for painting, for cooking, for dancing, for acting…

The point is this: Before the two months pass and the next you realize is your daughter has memorized all the earth’s TV shows, do something. Plan out her summer today.

Go out.

I know, I know. Very often, the words “summer” and “extra expenses” are synonyms. That’s true. But you can also be creative. You can take your child out without spending too much.

When I was no older than nine years old and our family lived in a Bacolod subdivision called Mountain View, my dad and mom did the wisest move any parent can do: They bought me an inexpensive bike. And so I biked. Each morning, I pedaled. Each afternoon, I pedaled. Together with my neighbors, we drove our BMX bikes, raced the asphalt roads, scouted for “damang” (as “kaka,” or spiders are called in Ilonggo) crawling the electric lines, shot hoops at the village court, and pulled our “tiradors” (slingshots) to target birds.

We weren’t inside. We were out.

Finally, here’s one last tip: Summer’s the perfect time to bond with your child. Buy a plastic kite and drive to the Family Park in Talamban. Throw the kite up in the air while your son maneuvers it upward.

You play golf? And want your daughter to learn the game? Enroll her in a JunGolf program. Drop her at the morning’s start. Pick her up. Watch her. Compliment her swing. If you can afford it, buy her a junior golf set. And when she’s good enough to play a few holes, be her partner. Or her caddy. By summer’s end, guess what: Your daughter will be all-smiles, tanned, tired. And, she’d have found a new best friend named Dad.

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