"What was one fun thing you did this summer?"
"I went to Pier 2 to swim and play."
That was Aiden's response to the questions his new teachers asked him during their student-teacher conference. (Yes, there's a such thing as a student-teacher conference. It's where the teachers meet with each student for about a half hour to talk about what they did over the summer, their goals for the school year, what they'd like to learn, and all that jazz. It's a great way for the teachers to get to know them and a bit about their learning style.)
I was fully expecting Aiden to mention our trip to the amusement park or our day trip to legoland or summer camp or the restaurants we visited. After all, those experiences weren't exactly free. And they weren't cheap either. But little man was all about mentioning a spot we visited quite often this summer. It's also one of his favorite spots and one of his go-to spots if there's nothing on our agenda for the day. Or if he's not quite feeling what's on our agenda for the day.
And guess what? It's free!
This was the first summer in about four years that we didn't take a vacation vacation. Like a new-city-new-country-tropical-island-I-never-wanna-leave-this-place vacation. Between working and adjunct professor-ing and his school schedule and my school schedule, I just couldn't make it happen. Not gonna lie -- I felt all kinds of terrible when I finally came to terms with the fact that a vacation wasn't in the cards for us this year. But I tried to make the best of it by having a fun -- and free -- NYC staycation.
And guess what? That's what Aiden remembers the most. And that's where we made some of the best memories.
It's totally proof that the best things in life are free. Trips to the playground, trips to the pier, splashing around in the pool, playing Marco-Polo, talking about anything and everything, good conversations, hugs, laughter, love... that's all free. And magical. And that's what the kids'll remember the most.