Almost Summer

My family is on the homestretch of grades four and seven.  Although it seems like a mere five minutes ago that this most recent school year began, it is now unbelievably close to a ceremonious end.

It’s that time of year when, as parents, we realize that yet another year of our children’s lives has flown by, and we sigh and wish that life would slow down, if only just a bit.

But then, sometime around mid-June it occurs to us that instead of grasping at the year that is slipping away, it’s actually time to throw open the window and give it a little shove; really, let’s just put it all behind us already and get on with the summer!

Ah, summer, and all that is so wonderful about this time of year.

Much like the water that gushes over the top of the collapsed side of an inflatable swimming pool, we have already flooded out the door into the great wide open.

The TV is on less, the sunscreen is on more and cooking and eating our meals, both now outdoors, has become an activity rather than part of a necessary routine.

I sympathize with my 13 and 10-year-old kids as they attempt to maintain a schedule similar to, yet so much easier to stick with during the cold and blustery winter months.  Most (OK, some) June days are lovely and long, and all kids still in school seem to plod through each with a balanced mix of unbridled enthusiasm for the freedom that is almost within reach, and resignation of putting in necessary time.

Soon they’ll adjust to staying up and sleeping in late, and enjoying carefree days when the most pressing concern is whether their homemade popsicles have frozen yet.  Mine will also spend some time at camp and participate in other scheduled activities, but the pace is completely different.

Northern Ontario calls, and although spectacular in the winter months too, nothing beats the feeling of toes sunk into warm, sun drenched sand at the beach.

There is a great number of more obvious privileges that make me feel extremely lucky to be raising my kids in this part of the world, but nothing illustrates this as plainly as a day on the shore of just about any lake in Ontario.  How decadent to watch the kids frolic in the cool, clear water, and when taking a break, reach into a cooler and choose from an abundance of fresh, healthy, and locally produced food.

For the kids, summer is undoubtedly about the freedom and the opportunities it presents.  Although they choose, enjoy, and often even miss their year round activities, to shake the reins of their busy schedules is liberating and exciting.  And, regardless of what they say (but don’t tell them I said so!) my kids like school…they won’t pine away to return, but they are lucky enough to benefit from and appreciate an enriching and enjoyable learning experience while there.

For me, summer is about being more involved with, watching, listening, and savouring the sights and sounds of my kids playing, ideally, outside in natural surroundings.   Although I can’t completely leave my “real job” I will be taking a break from writing this column, in order to limit the amount of time I spend in front of the computer, and instead spend with them during their down time.

Part of the irony of this time of year, especially for the kids, is that by doing less, we make the most of our summer.  I hope you too, enjoy the bounty that summer brings.

originally published in the Waterloo Region Record