Jeff Smith 11:52 a.m., June 19
If a person’s strongest memories are of childhood, I wonder what my kids will remember about living in San Carlos. La Mesa is a stone’s throw away and we spend much of our time there. Today, we are ice skating. I’m watching young kids buzz around wobbly-legged adults, even as I safely sit on the bleachers – content just to watch. Does the fear of falling increase proportional to height? I can remember doing this as a kid, too. But, I lived where you could skate outdoors during the winter. If you tried to ice skate in the summer, you ended up swimming. My kids don’t like to hear my “when I was your age stories”. At least I know they won’t be licking any frozen light poles in San Diego.
As a parent, I spend my time shuttling my kids from one activity to the next – living vicariously through them, maybe, or trying to avoid the dreaded words – I’m bored, more likely. Maybe it’s both. At the Navajo Softball Fields – Watching from the bleachers, I’m torn between keeping score of the game or keeping score of who uses the drinking fountain more – people or dogs. So far, the dogs own it – three to one. Note to self: I need to patent a doggy drinking fountain for the park. For now, I’ll amuse myself watching their owners lift the little dogs and coax the big dogs to quench their thirst – thankful that I remembered to fill up my water bottle at home.
Leaving the Lake Murray Starbucks, I decide to take a walk around the lake – tempting the ducks with a blueberry scone. What’s this? Are there really shells on the beach? Could La Mesa have been ocean-front property a million years ago? Now there’s a story I can tell my kids. Never mind that the sand was probably trucked in from the San Diego Bay. They don’t need to know that part. Mission Trails is not far from here. I have fond memories from there. Surely my kids will remember the rumors of an occasional wandering mountain lion and the rattlesnakes at the nature center. They are too young to enjoy hiking but maybe someday.
A visit to my kids’ elementary school – miniature tables and chairs, drinking fountains for a crowd of oompa loompas. Coffee, tea, soda pop, pee – we always drank from the third spigot in my youth. What will my kids remember about their youth? Will they return to their school as adults and be amazed at how small it really is? A rare weekend with no organized activities means a trip to Grossmont Center. “I’m sure your dad will love a painted unicorn for Father’s Day.” More likely, it will adorn their own bookshelves until they go off to college but this is about making lifelong memories not priceless works of art. The theatre is right next door. I haven’t told them that as a teenager, I would pay for one movie and sneak into two more – a summertime movie marathon. Will my kids do the same? For now, it’s just one.
Now it’s summertime – in San Diego, you need a calendar to remind you – and that means summer camps for the kids. This week’s theme – Water Fun: slip ‘n slides, water balloons and a daily dip in the pool – ahh, to be a kid again. Everyone is wearing a red shirt. It must be field trip day. To the beach! Soon we’ll be sneaking onto the golf course to watch the fireworks – a lot of people have the same idea. The daring ones are watching from Cowles Mountain. We watch the flashlights snake down the mountain after the show.
Whether we are hanging out at the lake or going on a hike; spending our day at the mall or watching a softball game, there is plenty to do in San Carlos. Hopefully, my kids will remember it all. America’s Finest City is not a bad place to grow up afterall.