Summer is halfway over. Okay, it’s more than halfway, but it’s still July and July is the middle month of summer so technically we’re still in the middle of summer, right?
As such, I have scrupulously avoided the catalogues and fliers with snappily dressed kids in their fall attire that have already begun to flood my mailbox. And I have averted my eyes, more than once, to the displays emblazoned with the words “Back to School.”
So imagine my dismay when I walked into Walgreens yesterday and there, smack dab in the middle of the store where the summer items used to be, was this … travesty:
I know there are a lot of parents out there who approach the first day of school with more glee than Christmas morning, but I am not one of them.
When I was a kid, the end of the school year was brutal. I was ready for summer vacation by mid-April. My brain, which generally fired on all four cylinders, was torturously limping toward the finish line on a flat tire and a crappy suspension. And the idea of finishing my last school project (inevitably a diorama of some kind) was more torturous than being trapped in a pit of snakes.
After a school year crammed with obligations and schedules and homework, I just needed a mental break. I needed a lazy, languid summer to decompress; to wonder, to not be on anyone’s schedule.
Turns out I still do. And so do my kids.
This summer, like all the ones that came before it, has been filled with a whole lot of nothing — and that’s the way we like it. No camps, no lessons, no schedules. Summer, when you’re a kid, is the only opportunity you have in your life to be truly free. To wake up when you want and decide on a whim what adventures to have.
I fully understand that for some working mothers, that isn’t an option. But for us, it is. And I am not going to waste the opportunity while they still want to have fun with me. Because let me tell you, summer is just as much fun at 40 as it was at 10.
We build forts, find grasshoppers, and have water gun fights. We throw footballs, fish off the dock, and read to each other. We get tossed in the waves, climb trees, and watch movies at noon. When I am busy, I watch them together, giggling and whispering about their inside jokes. Every night after they go to bed, they whisper in the dark about the dreams they have.
Yes, they squabble. And yes, they get bored. But that’s part of the magic. That’s actually part of the fun. My kids have learned that being bored is exactly what they need sometimes. It’s in the boredom that our souls relax and our brains rejuvenate.
I could regurgitate all the studies that show how boredom and lack of structure are the foundation of a child’s imagination. I could extoll the virtues of unfettered downtime. I could tell you that it is boredom that revitalizes our souls.
But frankly, that would take a lot of work. And it’s summer, after all.
So screw you, Back to School displays. I still want suntan lotion (because God knows I go through a can a day). And goggles. Where the hell are goggles? True to form, my children have lost six — that’s right six — pairs of goggles already this summer. And I don’t even care.
I want to see the ice coolers, the pool toys, and cheap floats that pop the minute you blow them up. I want to see freedom and idolatry staring me in the face.
So take your pencils and notebooks and brightly colored pens and shove ’em where the summer sun don’t shine.
I’m. Not. Ready. Yet.