I read an article this morning written my a writer/mom regarding her feelings of summer with her children. It brought to mind an essay I wrote for our local paper (hard to believe eleven years ago)*. I re-read my piece, smiled a little bittersweetly, but happy to be where we are now as well. This essay was written at the end of summer about the precious days and nights for children while out of school. For me, now days long gone, though still close to my heart. My children are no longer running though sprinklers, though it still sounds like fun to me. Now they are busy with friends, jobs, high school & college... and all the other activities that are oh so important for fifteen to twenty year olds. I always try to appreciate these moments, a blink and then they are gone. This is especially why I love to write, or journal. What is no longer a part of our daily life can be revisted forever through words. A very satisfying feeling.
- until next time, c
*(I'm sharing the essay below for those interested in reading it.) Your comments are always welcome.
THEN: Summer 2002 (ages 6, 7 and 11)
NOW: Difficult to find a photo of all three together these days, these are somewhat recent...
winter 2011 (ages 15, 16 and 20)
winter 2011 (ages 15, 16 and 20)
Summertime is Precious Time
By Cathy Collins
So here we are again, the time of year everyone talks about. They even have commercials about it-Staples comes to mind- finally, the kids are going back to school! This disturbs me. Every time I see that commercial I wonder what a child must think while watching it… 'my parents can’t wait to get me out of their hair'?
It saddens me to think that summer is ending. No more coming down to a leisurely breakfast in the morning with the kids excitedly asking: “what are we going to do today mom”?
I’m anticipating this sense of loss before the kids go back to school. I know my two youngest are really going to miss their ‘buddy’, their older sister, once school starts. Who am I kidding I am going to miss her too, our frequent late nights… for a steal away dinner, or a movie.
When children reach school age, the summer is the only time of year when they have, in their minds, complete freedom.
During the summer you can linger with your children at the lunch and dinner table. Talk about your day, allow the kids to be creative with their plans for the afternoon, or after dinner, since you don’t have to work around homework and most school year activities.
Don’t get me wrong, schedules are great, they keep us sane when we would otherwise be totally crazed. But this all too short respite during the summer is a welcome relief to the fast pace of the school year.
Before you know it, kids are expected to manage their own schedules. High school, part-time jobs and activities…and then they are off to college. When they are young, kids should be given the opportunity to be kids.
Each day of summer is a new experience or perhaps the same old thing. But each day really does belong to the children during the summer. It is a gift of time for them, to do with as they wish.
Swinging on the swings, looking up at the clear blue sky, trying to grab the sun and keep it with them forever. Or just sitting side by side on the swings, licking drippy popsicles and talking- about nothing, about everything.
Building a fort in the backyard keeps children of all ages happily busy for a whole afternoon. For a day: they become architects, construction workers and interior designers. They teach themselves to manage employees, designate responsibilities and promote deserving workers...all in a days play!
The resourcefulness of young children always amazes me. When given the time, they use their vivid imaginations to make up games. Or they play classic games with an added twist- to accommodate children of different ages. These games can go on for hours, all it takes is time. In this hectic world we live in, summer is the season for children, when this precious free time belongs to them.
The jingle of the ice-cream truck propels them from their game of the moment. The next big decision in their life is what kind of ice cream to get.
Everyday is a weekend for kids in the summertime, as it should be. During the school year it is a different type of learning, more structured, less creative.
I get weary thinking of the schedule that most kids today work through on a daily basis. Between school and activities, fourth and fifth graders today are as busy as high school kids were in my day. They don’t seem any worse for the wear, though it surely means that these carefree days of summer are that much more important.
Maybe if life were a little slower paced, a bit more like it was 30 years ago, maybe then the end of summer wouldn’t seem like a loss.
If they want to catch bugs or chase butterflies, I’ll cheer them on. If they want to play hopscotch of have a hula-hoop contest, I’ll join them. The glee and excitement they feel now when I spray them with the garden hose will be just a memory in a few years time… something only little kids do.
I am savoring these last moments of summer with my children, because that is all they are, moments and then they are gone.
At least by stepping back and appreciating these moments they will always stay with us. School schedules resume, life goes on, but the memories of the fun filled, leisurely days of summer cannot be taken away from us. ~ September 2000