Another school year has slammed shut like a hollow locker. The day’s knowledge washed off the white board. Books collected, papers distributed and the recycle bins overflowing with those same papers. Grades posted into that cyberspace portal which some kids will dread their parents opening. The flag has come down from its station and put away until next year’s Pledge of Allegiance.
I am a teacher. You know that. And this time of year is always bittersweet, as faculty departs for summer break or new job opportunities, or that adventure called retirement. We all gathered as the buses pulled away….yelling good-byes, and “I’ll miss you” even though some kids we won’t. Just as they won’t miss us. It’s just a fact. Nothing to be too upset over. I mean really, do you like everyone you work with? Didn’t think so.
But now that I settle into a summer that will come and go as quickly as my prep time, I have some moments to call my own. To repair the damage done to my house, garage and car known as ‘hit and run’ which is what life is like when the morning alarm of 5:15 announces the new day and falling into bed at 11:30 pm is part of the agenda. You know how it is; you just push through. What do you leave out? What goes undone? It is like dusting your house when the company is coming up your walkway. You just keep processing errands, appointments and people. I know God did not create ‘hurry’ but I feel I live in that whirlwind most days. But I am not complaining, simply stating facts.
Summer is a time for the soul to take it a bit slower. To make time for the porch, even if I have to pencil it in on the calendar. To avoid ‘sign-up charts’ like the plague, and to realize I am not going to make all of the grandkids’ events. And that’s okay. It is far better to be rested and ready for them to play at my house and sleep in my sleeping bags. That is the summer they have been craving, as well.
I started my first day of summer vacation by going to a couple of garage sales with my daughter while pushing my youngest granddaughter in the stroller. A simple act, yet I held it up to the light as a holy moment. This is the family that just moved back home after being out of state for three years. A simple stroll created a quiet ecstasy in my soul. Yesterday, having five grandsons at the park was beyond grand. They went from baseball to basketball to soccer. Soon a small clump of trees called their names and off they went exploring. I simply smiled. I am the grandmother, who as a child, could NOT wait until school was over. I lived to be outside to play, create, wonder. I came in when the lightning bugs came out. Perhaps, I am more a child when summer begins than any other time of my life.
Yet in the back of my mind I worry about my other kids. My students. Will they find enough to eat without school breakfast or lunch? Will they be safe or stuck babysitting for hours? Will they find any time to relax or will their sport schedules and travel teams keep them so booked up that they can’t find time to goof off? Will these kids who stole my heart be so connected to their phones and electronics that they never get lost in a book or craft? Will they watch films that steal their innocence or will that happen when supervision of caring adults is lacking? I think of the faces that reacted to my hours and hours of lecture, questions, and how they would laugh when I said some crazy thing. In that moment, their giggles were authentic and their middle school lives were carefree. I want my kids to have that balance of a summer that is fun, relaxing, and full of childlike memories. Is that too much to ask? We push and push them to be better test-takers, citizens, independent thinkers, problem solvers; it is my hope that we also give them permission to just be kids.
Well…I am off to bed. Baseball games and birthday parties await me. And a nap. And a good book to read. Summer is here. Time to play.