Saturday, July 3, 2010

Past Deadline: Gulping Down Summertime

It’s officially summer, and that means it’s time to get all nostalgic (as I am wont to do) and start singing “…why ain’t it always suuuummmmerrrr….”

Or maybe not.

Summer is just one more thing on a long list of items that have changed for me now that I am one of those so-called grown-ups. First came all those novelties like laundry and dishes and cooking that seemed pretty neato when I was living on my own for the very first time. Boy...that wears off after a while. Then came the whole “getting older” part of life, when certain parts of the body become unpredictable or even mutinous. I’m thinking metabolism, blood chemistry, knees and hips to name a few examples. Then there is the part when you truly understand the “responsibility” of adulthood. In general, I more or less grew into my brains as I neared 30. Then I had kids and the weight of being responsible for guiding two young lives hit home. Whoa.

Another notable grown-up thingy relates to summer. During the years a person is attending school, summer tends to be the shining beacon at the end of the tunnel. Whether you like school or hate it, finishing a grade or a year comes with that sweet reward of having anywhere from eight to 16 weeks of holidays.

Through high school and university those weeks came with having summer jobs, but they were jobs I really loved, so they didn’t feel like work at all. Plus, I made money. My own money. How cool is that?

So when I graduated from school and got my first full-time job, it took a little while to adjust to the new schedule. It also changed the way I felt about summer. No longer was it a span of time that involved seemingly endless days of frolic; it became a season to be scheduled and navigated. Instead of miles of fun punctuated by occasional spates of boredom, summer became a race to cram everything in – and not all of it was frolic.

I particularly have noticed this when it comes to vacationing. Before having kids, vacations were a time to get out of Dodge and relax and unwind. With very young kids, however, you pretty much have to take Dodge with you in order to be comfortable, and it sometimes takes more days to pack and then recover than the vacation itself.

My kids are a bit older now, so the days of lugging strollers and playpens and extra everything and ample toys have subsided. It definitely makes me appreciate all the preparation my parents had to do when they took us camping.

Now that the kids are a bit older, there’s still a lot to do and it’s still super busy, but the busyness is peppered with more relaxing times.

Lots of people have talked about how parenting allows you to return to your childhood and relive things. At first, as the resident pack mule, I didn’t really find that happening so much, but now that Girlchild is four and Boychild is eight I can see it.

I think back to my eight-year-old self and I remember those summers of camping in the tent trailer with my parents and brother and sometimes my grandmother. We went all over Ontario and also to New York State and I remember how everything seemed special and different.

Sometimes kids today need a big “wow” factor to get their attention, but I’ve seen my kids’ happiness unfurl at a cottage or a playground, so I feel confident that experiencing some of the little things I loved as a kid will etch good memories for them, too.

I remember the smell of my new Nancy Drew books mingling with the scent of canvas as I lay on my sleeping bag and immersed myself in reading. I remember “surfing” rollers on Lake Ontario. I remember how cool it seemed to wade out into a big lake and suddenly climb up onto a sandbar. I remember camping not far from a farm field and watching hundreds of fireflies cavort with sleepy, lowing cows.

Now if I only I could figure out how to make summer slow down so we can drink it in sips instead of gulps.

Published in The Perth Courier, June 24/10

No comments: