Winding Down…and Gearing Up

My youngest daughter just blew me a kiss as she got out of the car for school. Does it get any better than that?

It’s been a good school year for our three kids and now it’s winding down. The MCA tests have all been taken. The field trips are planned. The spelling lists have been completed.

It’s a good thing, because the school lunch account is on zero. And my son’s school shoes got ripped on barbed wire when he was playing capture the flag in the back yard. Not to mention the fact that all of his jeans are wearing out.

Our youngest daughter is on her third pair of shoelaces this year and this pair doesn’t even match her pink and turquoise worn-out tennies. Her clothes are all either too small or too big and she’s ready to live in t-shirts, skirts and flip flops.

Our middle daughter – always the overlooked child, right? – needed a new backpack a month or two ago and thinks that a day is spoiled if she can’t sleep in until at least 9:00am.

Yes, we’re all ready for a break. But, of course, while one thing is winding down the next thing is gearing up. We have a whole list of summer activities.

We’ve got two kids heading to band practice, two kids off to Camp Invention, and all three to Bible camp. Then there’s Family Camp, Summer Reading programs at the Library for our youngest and, oh yes, I almost forgot – backpacking on the North Shore for certain members of the family.

All of this doesn’t leave much time for, well, summer! But it’s all good, right? At least there isn’t homework each night and waking up at 6:15 every morning. We can actually sleep until 7:00!

Back when I was a kid my summer planned activities were limited to Library Reading Hour and swimming lessons. Which I failed. (Learning to swim in algae-infested waters wasn’t my cup of tea.) I remember spending hours on the beach collecting crabs and skinning my knees, and sleeping every night on the deck beneath the stars.

I wonder, sometimes, if my kids have the freedom that I had. If they’re getting to experience the care-free, unscheduled, laid-back summers that I had every year.

The truth is, they’re not. And yet there are so many things I DON’T sign them up for! They could be scheduled from dawn until dusk – and later – every day. But I don’t believe that’s wise. I want them to get up in the morning, yes – and not sleep until noon – but I want them to have time to dig holes in the dirt. To hunt for frogs. To take walks to the lake and sleep in a tent. To read books out on the deck and sip iced tea and pick cherry tomatoes from starts they helped me to plant.

I want them to be kids. After all, my oldest begins high school this fall and he doesn’t have much time left before he’ll want a job and a car and college applications.

So for now, for this summer at least, we’ll play. Time enough to be serious in the future.

2 Responses

  1. You are a wise mama. Don’t even get me started on overscheduled lives, racing here and there and everywhere. Kids need imaginative play and free time and activities of their choosing not planned and scheduled by adults. In other words, kids need to just be kids. Bravo for you to stray away from the societal norm of packing every minute of your kids’ lives with organized activities.

  2. Ironically, there is guilt involved! And I suppose I need to add in swimming lessons as I’ve been avoiding them. The list never stops, does it?

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