Summer is coming, and along with the electricity bill, our parental anxiety is rising. How will we deal with the challenge of keeping our kids occupied all summer long? I have already noticed advertisements for anti-boredom seminars designed to pump parents full of ideas to keep their kids busy during the summer.

Now, one thing I know about my parents is that they never required a summer preparation seminar. They would have considered the whole idea ludicrous, and used the money to treat the family to ice cream instead. Specifically a banana split, which we would all share as we huddled close and our spoons competed for the choicest, syrupiest bites. And after the banana split was finished? Well, that was our problem, wasn't it?

It was expected that we entertain ourselves without misbehaving (much)We could always read. My parents set the example as they disappeared into books of their own. The library was around the corner, and our house was always full of books. There was also the option of riding our bikes, or roller stating. The choice was ours.

But summer vacation meant vacation not only for us, but our parents - both teachers - shared the same vacation schedule as we did. We didn't go to camp. We went to the pool where new opportunities presented themselves, such as diving for pennies, or playing Marco Polo. My mother would sit on a lounge chair and read, occasionally entering the pool to cool off, but taking care never to get her face wet. When she swam, she kept her glasses on.

Basically, we were on our own, whether at the pool or at home. Summer meant unstructured time, and it was expected that we entertain ourselves. Without misbehaving (much) or getting into trouble. And for the most part, we did.

One summer, for instance, we organized a wedding between our dog, Pompom, a Pomeranian puppy, and Beauty, the neighbor's German shepherd. I wrote the song, which was sung as Pompom (was) walked down the isle. An older friend performed the ceremony, and then Pompom and Beauty moved into their newly built double dog house.

Pompom ran away shortly after that. I guess she wasn't the marrying kind. That meant looking for her, which kept us busy for awhile. She had gone to live with a friend from school, and was enjoying their stuffed animal collection. But they recognized her picture from our signs and contacted us. When we found her, she moved back home again and her brief marriage experiment was forgotten.

Had my parents been the ones organizing our activities, rather than just supervising them, I am not sure Pompom and Beauty would ever have gotten married. And then "The Beauty Bunch," sung to the tune of "The Brady Bunch." would never have been written.

We didn't always need something to be happeningMy brother and I turned out okay, despite the boredom, or perhaps because of it. We understood that if we wanted something to happen, we needed to make it happen. We also understood that we didn't always need something to be happening. We didn't exactly watch the grass grow, but there were whole days when the most exciting thing that happened was catching a firefly in a mayonnaise jar towards evening, and drifting off to sleep watching it twinkle in my darkened bedroom as it explored the confines of its newfound captivity.

Why does it seem that my kids are growing up in a world where boredom is considered unacceptable for children and dangerous for parents? My husband and I try to avoid toys that flash and play music, but inevitably, they have found their way into our home, smuggled in under the smiles of beaming grandparents. Yet, thank G‑d, Shabbat is still a day that belongs to the imagination.

On Shabbat, my kids build water slides out of couch pillows, and towers out of Kapla (remember Lincoln logs?). They make Shabbat parties, and organize a special ceremony for a newborn stuffed duck.

My daughter still doesn't quite know what to do with a coloring book. She can't imagine anything more boring than page after page of coloring in lines drawn by somebody else. Recently, she drew a picture of a family of snails who live underneath a rainbow, and listened delightedly when I was inspired by her picture to tell her a bedtime story about that family of snails she had drawn. Since then, the Rainbow Snails have had many adventures, which all involve the younger snails sneaking away and getting into trouble, and needing help to get back home under the rainbow.

The more we give them, the more dependent they become on external sources of stimulationShe drew a picture of snails, because that is what she found in the bushes. Everyday on the way home from school, she hunts for snails, a task that requires sharp eyes, patience, and a benevolent mother that looks the other way as my daughter adds her newest acquisitions to her snail collection that live in the goldfish bowl ever since the fish have died.

It seems like we, as parents, lose something when we try too hard to fill up our children's worlds. The more we give them, the more dependent they become on external sources of stimulation. I don't think parents need seminars on how to keep their kids busy. We need seminars on trusting ourselves, and trusting our kids, and trusting the magic of summer to provide us with a world of infinite possibilities.