The first few days of summer are tough. I find, at least for us, it’s sort of like going to the prom. There’s so much hoopla and excitement leading up to it, the actual onset of the season sort of lands with a thug. My children take about 7-10 days to decompress from their scheduled out school days and to figure out a new, less hourly rhythm. During the interim, they fight with each other, feel antsy and out of sorts. And it’s not something you can put your finger on, but it hangs heavy in the humid air and makes everyone behave a little nuts.
This year is different for us, too, because we’re not travelling our usual path. Each summer for the past several we’ve packed up and headed for “the lake” for a week or two and in time to enjoy the same 4th of July festivities I took part in when I was a kid. I guess I didn’t realize or at least didn’t factor how much those trips defined summer for us, and how we’d feel if we didn’t travel.
This year we’re free to chalk up new expectations and experiences, but I’m not sure anyone is truly up to the task, primarily me, the family fun task master. This notion of mapping our summer out gives me pause and makes me wonder: is it really necessary to PLAN summer?
And then there’s the fact that everyone is getting older and pushing boundaries for more freedom. My son is eleven, and I’m conscious of needing to let go a little bit more. It’s difficult — to trust and to not have total (real or perceived) control over his safety. I remember when I was his age riding my bike all the way across town to swim practice. In fact, I was pretty much unchecked the entire day during the summer.
So today he rode to swim practice and tennis on his own. That was big for me. Riding your bike around Alexandria, VA is a little bit different than Huron, Ohio, but the need for that freedom and then experiencing it are much the same. It’s a pinnacle time for him. So I step back, however difficult and scary for me.
Maybe it’ll be easier with the girls when their turn comes, but I doubt it, and I don’t know where we’ll be or what my geographical/demographical worries will entail. It might be easier to send everyone to camp for “simulated” freedom, away from the parental unit, but still under some sort of supervision. It’s something to consider, but I still feel like exploring your own, everyday world under a new less “parent driven” perspective MEANS something. It weighs in on the memory scale.
So we’re in day five or six of our summer daze … things are feeling a bit more calm. Everyone seems a little less worried about “what’s next,” including me. Fingers crossed, by day 10 we will have found our summer groove — freedom from our worries along with the ability to just RELAX and enjoy whatever the day brings.