Joco Opinion

July 18, 2013

Susan Vollenweider — Cresting the summit of summer

Can back to school truly be less than a month away?

What’s that you say? You’ve had enough of summer break? Enough shuttling the children from camp to camp, sport to sport, activity to activity? Enough, “I’m bored” and enough, “Can we…?”? You’ve had your fill of watermelon, freezer pops and ants that make it into a picnic sandwich that you only notice when you see one wiggle out?

Parents, we’ve done a lot this summer. We survived the first few weeks’ shakedown cruise of break. Those weeks when everything was new and fun, yet hectic and hurried. Those days when your flip flops gave you a blister and you didn’t care because — hello — summer! The first few visits to the pool, the ice cream stand and the park when everyone wanted to do everything every day. But this wasn’t your first summer, you fired up the family-mobile and went for it because— by golly!— it’s summer.

We’ve gotten through several camps, lessons and other paid-for activities that can only be done when school classes are not in session. We’ve adjusted to summer sleep schedules; even if they are the same sleep schedules as school days, they feel different because we roll into bed hoping that an after-dinner swim counts as a bath. Again.

We have caught lightning bugs, burned many a citronella, and the swatting of mosquitos has become as unnoticeably reflexive as blinking our eyes. We’ve flaked-off the formerly burnt skin on the spot we always miss with sunblock, and gone through a whole tube of anti-itch cream tending to scratchy situations. Leaves of three, let it be!

As we rounded past the Fourth of July we cruised into midsummer. The rocker cushions were broken in, spilled on, hosed off and are starting to flatten just a bit. We’ve left our favorite insulated tumbler at the ballpark, the playground and that last place that we can’t remember. “That was a great insulated tumbler,” we told ourselves, “I’ll have to remember to get another one next summer.”

We have begun to make excuses to not buy any more popsicles, hot dogs or s’mores ingredients and we prepare for the annual garden-to-kitchen migration of tomatoes, peppers and zucchini.

Mysteriously we simultaneously have more and less free time than during the school year. To be honest, when I flipped the calendar over it was not only the second day of the month, but I was stunned that it was July. I had been pinballing between all things summer for so long, I lost track of time and the season was half over.

But it’s not half over. It’s more than half over.

That’s right, people. The next school year is closer than the last one.

According to my calendar, the day when BACK TO SCHOOL is written (in bright red marker with three exclamation points and probably too many hearts) is less than a month away.

We have crested the summit of summer and it’s all downhill from here.

Like a giant slalom course.

There are still trips and camps to navigate — my kids have band, football, basketball camps still — but they have started to get a desperate look in their eyes.

Summer over?

Not yet. There is still summer living to be had, but for every kid with that look of realization that summer is almost over and school is ahead, there is a parent who has a look all their own.

A little nostalgia.

A little trepidation.

A little hope and a little joy.

Ready or not, enough summer break or not — the end is in sight.

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