816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider: Old-timey summers have always been here

I’m either blissfully ignorant, hopelessly optimistic or simply extremely experienced, but I’m not dreading summer break.

In the past I have. Months of hearing “Moooom!” so often that I want to change my name and not tell anyone what the new one is.

“Mom, can I have a snack?”

“Mom, can Everysinglekidinthesubdivision come over to do a craft?”

And every request containing the underlying meaning: “Mom! Entertain me now or I’ll go and do something you will regret.”

I’ve kept up with the kid’s pinball-like toddler ways, taken them to most every staycation destination nearby and organized days that turned into weeks, then months of constant activity.

But things change.

Fireflies, crickets and frogs.

Kids learn to drive, they become independent, they not only make their own snacks but they do possess (if not practice) the skill of cleaning up the mess. That’s where we are this summer. Change was slow, but it happened.

Fairs, festivals and funnel cake — just one more bite.

Our house has always been kind of old school — if you swapped out the electronics for Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books and our air conditioning for metal fans and a sleeping porch, I suspect our family’s summers could time travel fairly well.

Fields of buttercups, daisies and Queen Anne’s lace.

The youngest rides his bike all day, plays baseball in the evenings and negotiates with anyone who might take him fishing; the oldest baby-sits, reads and embroiders. The middle child is a typical teenage boy who spends days making muscles and nights pretending he doesn’t have to try all that hard to make them.

(That line is going to cost me. Go read it again to make it worth the price.)

Steamy mornings, sweaty noons and sultry evenings.

Of course there are decidedly contemporary situations that wouldn’t make a transition back to “Mad Men” days. Sitting down to a Netflix bender would blow young Sally Draper’s mind (and that kid watched a lot of TV). Playing video games, including the trash talking that goes on, would shock even the most sophisticated ad exec. Knowledge of horrific acts have ended the days of kids leaving the house after breakfast to points parentally unknown and not returning until supper, but summertime still feels nostalgic even with modern life swirling around.

Citronella, cicadas and slapping at mosquitos.

We don’t have any family vacations planned this year, but the kids have camps and we have a tradition of a list of filler jaunts that has become shorter over the years. The two teenagers schedule their own days; I’m not that involved. I suppose this should make me sad, that our old-timey summers are transitioning as they grow — but I’m not. Really. Change has brought us to this exciting time in their young lives, I want them to have those adventures even though it means I don’t get to share them.

Popsicles, snow cones and frozen anything except the movie. Dear Lord, not again. I can’t. I. Just. Can’t.

I think every family has a bit of timeless summer in them. The days are longer, the clothes are shorter, and who doesn’t like to fly their hand out a car window on a warm day even if that car is driving to the office or day camp?

Flip flops, splish splashes and chug-a-lugs.

I might sing a different tune when they go back to school (in 75 days, not that I counted or anything), but I think this summer is going to be different for us.

Except, of course, the parts that have blissfully traveled through time and remain the same.

For more of Susan Vollenweider’s writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.