“Summertime and the living is easy” is the verse that always comes to me the first day of summer break. For a brief shining period of time, I no longer have to set my alarm to waken in the pre-dawn hours of the day. My feet no longer have to hit the floor running and my mind doesn’t have to scramble around mentally checking off whether we had completed homework, ordered lunch for the week, or have clean socks and underwear. My children are fourteen years apart (what was I thinking, right?) so I have been at this school thing for a long time—too long for someone that abhors structure. At the end of every school year, I feel like a warrior just returned from battle. Some years, I return victorious and triumphant, others I just count my blessings that I survived and have all my body parts (and mind) intact. This year is one of the years I am counting my blessings!
Words and the ability to express them have always come easily to me, but over the past several months, the words just wouldn’t come. I knew they were still there, but they were buried beneath the chaos and clutter of a forced lifestyle of regimen and mental fatigue. This morning, on the first day of summer break, the words were back, waiting to be spilled out onto paper, reaffirming that my spirit was once again free from the constraints of a lifestyle not suited to my personality. I’m not ashamed to admit that I recognize it to be a very childlike attitude. Not all children have a free spirit. Some thrive on structure, and it is our job as parents to know the difference. While summer activities can be challenging for working parents asking themselves, “What do we do with the children this summer?”, we need to bear in mind that, in a world where recess, PE, art and music have been taken out of some school systems, that our children still need those things. Sadly, some need to learn how to have fun and be unstructured. What if we tailor our children’s summer programs and activities around their personality? Some will thrive in physical activities while others develop their imagination through reading books. Summer is a time to let them be comfortable in their own skin. And us in ours.