Huh? Really? School’s out? My kids too? Summer always creeps on me – and it’s no wonder. Keep in mind that I live in New England and we’re still having frosts at night, so you can see how I might not know we’re anywhere near summer. But thank goodness they send all those notices home from school. Not that I read them. But they do start to pile up on the counters and eventually – just before they are likely to catch fire – I haul the whole pile to the dump and then on the way home I might notice one of my kids looking kind of listless and I’ll ask “What’d they serve for lunch today at school?” and he (or she, as this scene could be (okay, has been) played out with both of my kids) will say, “Mom, school’s been out for like a week now!”
Which begs the question, just what have those kids been doing every day for the last week? And only then do I realize the sad, ugly truth – we’ve all slept through the first week of summer vacation once again! But you know what they say about the family that loafs around all summer. They get the worm … or maybe they don’t get worms.
Frankly, I think the summer is for just that … loafing off and doing a whole lot of nothing. And since it’s summer, it’s perfectly fine to sleep in before you get up for your big day of loafing. Luckily, I have a teenage daughter who is a master loafer and can be perfectly content doing nothing for an entire summer (an entire year if we let her … but then, really, what kind of career options would she have? Although, she does show some natural talent for writing . . . ). We were actually worried about her doing so much nothing and began sending her to sleep-away camp a few years ago. We chose a Unitarian Universalist (or as my daughter calls it – “hippie-dippy” – camp that’s not too far from where we live) and she LOVES it.
So what did you do at camp? I asked her when she got home after three weeks. “Nothing.” Now, how perfect is that??? Turns out, pretty much every activity at this camp is optional except evening chapel (What do you talk about at chapel, dear? Nothing.) When she went the second year, I told her she at least had to make me one thing just to prove she’d at least gone to Arts & Crafts (and NO, those tattoos you came home with last summer, don’t count!) So she came home with a button that said “MOM” (or alternately, “WOW” if turned upside down. I was impressed.) This year, I won’t even expect that much when she returns. But at least I know she gets a three-week break from her cell phone, computer, ipod and the television. She’ll be in the woods with her friends … doing nothing. Isn’t that what summer is about?
Our son is more active. And most summers we’ve tried to keep him occupied with day camps, basketball camp and summer tournament baseball. This year, he too, will be going to sleep-away camp – for the first time. (Yes, I knew better than to try the hippie-dippy camp on him.) He’ll be with a passel of boys at a YMCA camp on a lake in Vermont for a week. (I’m imagining a sort of Lord of the Flies thing going on. I’m not worried, though. It’s only a week. I’m sure he’ll be home before anyone starts walking around with a head on a stick.) My hope is that they’ll keep him so busy that he’ll be ready for a little doing nothing time when he gets home.
Me? I’ll be puttering in my garden (in between chauffeuring my son to basketball camps and baseball games), taking the kids to swim in the river (just as soon as the ice breaks, probably around the 4th of July) and trying to work on Book 2. Oh, and spending as much time as I can in the screen porch, sipping iced tea in the shade (during the day) and cocktails by the twinkling lights of the fireflies (at night). And trying NOT to do a whole lot more. After all, isn’t that what summer is for?