High gas prices lead to summer crisis

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A few years ago, I wrote a column about how that upcoming summer’s gas was predicted to top $3 per gallon. At the time that seemed outlandish. Now it just sounds quaint.

Gas

My husband once noted, dryly, that I was less “stay at home mom” and more “gassing around three counties mom.” He had a point.

In truth, we weren’t so much raising our children in the country, as raising them in their car seats.

I once asked our pediatrician about the risks of curvature of the spine from the hours spent in the car as we commuted to distant parks, playgrounds, shopping venues and the homes of friends. She assured me my babies would be fine. (A little shorter than nature intended, maybe, but otherwise just fine).

This year, finances are tough and seem poised to get tougher every day. Like most anyone with an ounce of sense, we will be looking long and hard at how much we spend on gasoline (and other luxuries like, oh say, food) and adjusting our expectations accordingly.

If we lived anywhere near close to anything other than cows, I’d make outlandish claims to walk or bike everywhere I needed to go this summer. In fact, since we are approximately 100 miles from everywhere, I CAN make wild, outlandish claims like that, and then act disappointed when I realize it won’t really work.

So consider that done.

The thing is, I’m trying to see the silver lining here. With the rise in gasoline prices this year, I think it’s safe to say that if all goes well, we will be spending the majority of our summer “vacationing” in our own back yard.

Granted, this isn’t really a hardship of epic proportions since we have a swimming pool (or did last time I checked. Although with our luck, the swimming pool tide could turn on a dime).

Yet, even if you don’t have your very own big blue puddle in your very own back yard, I have to believe there are still ways to salvage summer without breaking the bank filling your fuel tank.

Do

Rather than joining — and driving — to a gym, how about we actually go out and play with the kids? That’s a savings right there!

I’m as big a fan of youth sports as the next soccer mom, but I have to concede that youth sports enrollments are way, way down this year. Not because our nation has suddenly thrown over Little League, but rather, because families can’t afford the gas to get there (and there, and there, and way over there in the next town, too).

When planning extracurricular activities, rather than driving hither and yon so that everyone can do, see, and go where they want, how about we compromise, choose something we all enjoy, and — get this — do it TOGETHER!

Finally, I think we’re going to pull the plug on high energy costs (and low personal energy expenditures). I think we will see what it might be like to go back to the “good old days” when computers and instant messaging weren’t such a big deal. When the television was turned off for much of the day because, quite frankly, there wasn’t anything on worth watching.

I want to go back to when friends were ACTUAL, living, breathing people and not “virtual” friends.

Forget living on a Web site, I remember when “MySpace” was the world outside my door. It was also a good climbing tree, cozy reading nook and a “fort” in the woods fashioned of scrap wood, sticks and imagination.

Maybe we’ll stretch out in the shade and read a couple of good books, or scan the skies for shapes in the clouds. I hear that’s still pretty much free.

In truth, the more I think about it, the more I realize that in some ways, all the blessings of modern technology and our thoroughly modern lifestyle (which I really enjoy, don’t get me wrong) actually keep us apart.

Who knows? If there is any good to come of rising fuel costs, it is that perhaps parking the car might, in the end, actually drive families closer together.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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