When your children are little, time is measured on the Julian calendar. Years begin in January and end in December, and you recall the year by the age your little ones were at the time. Once they start school, you recall the time by what grade they were in, and the calendar changes: years begin in August and end in May. The time in between is the wonderful period known as Summer.
As for me, I’ve finally realized what summer really is to us: A cleansing. A renewal. A release. (To my IT-guy husband, a reboot.) And we’ve developed a few rituals to welcome it, and habits to make it fun.
One of the rituals we began many years ago is the event we call The Burning of the Notebooks. After cleaning out backpacks (and checking for things others might be able to use) we light a fire in the backyard fire pit and ceremonially toss in the notebooks of the subjects that caused us the most grief that year. The Trailblazer gave up on this ritual a few years ago, opting to just toss them in the trash. But Slick gets a perverse particular pleasure out of it, so it continues. This year the only subject to make it into the pit was Latin. The curriculum this go-round included the mastery of advanced grammar, as well as the translation of Cicero’s orations and literary works. (Makes my head hurt just thinking about it, so I’ll indulge him whatever release he needs.) He had hundreds of pages of translations reduced to ash in just a few moments. But the smile stayed on his face all afternoon.
We also dispense with haircuts. Attending Catholic school, my kids are told what to wear and how their hair must be cut 9 months out of the year. Mr. Wonderful and I figure the least we can do is lay off during the summer. (Slick has figured out how to gradually eek by on haircut standards for the last month of school, so he usually starts the summer already looking a little shaggy.) One summer there was a family wedding, and I figured a good chance for some lovely photos, so I insisted on a trim. But we usually let them look like homeless dudes if they want to, because it’s only for a short time.
Shoes also become optional. There was a time when leaving the house (or returning home from someone else’s) meant a shoe-check. More than once I got phone calls from friends giving me the count of how many shoes were left behind. I was always a little puzzled when it was an odd number.
My favorite summer accessory is the attitude I get to assume: Being Agreeable About Things. From August til May, my role is that of Drill Sergeant. Get up on time. Get dressed in the right uniform. Brush your teeth. Eat your breakfast. Load the car. Go to school. Do your homework. Feed the dog. Clean your room. Eat your dinner. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Go to bed. Whew. It’s exhausting. And most of the time we can’t vary from the routine, or all hell breaks loose. So when they ask to do something off the regular path during summer, I like to say yes. I like to surprise them with my agreeability, hoping to send them the message that sometimes you have be disciplined, and sometimes you get to go freestyle.
Summer has already commenced for the two oldest boys. The Caboose has a few days of school left. Once those days are over, you’ll find us hanging out, often doing nothing in particular. I checked the calendar this morning to see just how long I get to be laid back. As school starts earlier each year, the summer gets a little shorter. This year we have until August 15th. That’s long enough.
What are some your favorite summer activities?? I’d love to hear about them!