I have this wooden block above my sink. It has each season on the four sides. I truly smiled and clapped my hands when I turned the block over from spring to summer. I am that kid who lived for school to be over. I am also that teacher who shares the same sentiment. I don’t know. It’s like standing on the edge of Christmas Eve, waiting for all of the surprise and adventure of Christmas morning to unfold.
That’s how it is when the bus pulls away from the curb on that last day of school: total joy and anticipation. A chapter waiting to be written of fun, freedom, and an endless string of Fridays that happen on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Summer vacation is the work of gods who understand kids. No more worksheets, tests, homework, and projects that fizzle. Time to imagine, get dirty, stay up late, sleep in. The summer assignment is to: pretend, build, pitch, hit, kick, slam, dribble, and that is just getting to the breakfast table.
My summer has started with the grandkids. Play dates in which five grandsons make slingshots, play in the hose, take turns on the swing, and play with action figures with wild abandon. This is the bonus timeI have to take my granddaughters to dinner. The best course isn’t on the menu; it’s their endless stories and funny takes on life. The purchases at the mall were great buys; but you can’t put a price on the silly selfies they took on my digital camera. Birthday parties, ball games, and pleas of “Can we spend the night?” make summer a magical time. For them and me. And foregoing the cleaning agenda while I rock the youngest grand baby, resets my inner peace. I made up a phrase that says, “Plant stillness—harvest calm.” A sleeping child in my lap does just this.
I value education, structure, and the hunger for life-long learning. But watching a robin return to the nest to lay on blue eggs is a science lesson built on wonder. Watching little lips sound out the words of a book they bought at a garage sale is reading for the fun of it. Which in turn, will prepare them for reading that is required. Planting seeds, picking strawberries, trying to make neon ‘glow in the dark’ bubbles is agriculture and chemistry at their fingertips. I think that we make learning so hard. Junk can become art; broken tree limbs a fort, and taking a walk downtown can reveal history lessons on every corner.
And may I add that a skinned knee may be the result of climbing a tree. Let ’em climb. The run through the meadow might be a little itchy. Scratch, but keep running. Collecting crawdads out of the creek may result in muddy kids. Guess what….they will wash. Play involves risk. Bike races and kickball games probably will end in a disagreement; let them solve it. And if they can’t work it out, call them in for a Kool-Aid break (black cherry is my favorite). And don’t stress over the sugar in Kool-Aid…it’s only a matter of weeks before they are being served school lunches.
I hope your summer is full of lightning bugs, chalk drawings, and ice cream cones. And when the kids come to play, join them.
The giggles you hear may be your own.