Can we talk about summer for a minute? I mean summer like we remember?
I’d be longing to be outside toward the end of the school year. I remember how claustrophobic I seemed to become the further into June the school year went on. If there were snow days to make up for, it never seemed like it would end. The windows open, the breeze coming through, the lawn mower cutting the grass. It was too much to keep my mind focused on whatever we were supposed to be learning. I wanted out.
The last day of school was always so exciting. Weeks of freedom until the new year would begin. I would, of course, not do much of anything. We didn’t vacation like many of the families of other peers. But now, I can truly appreciate how grateful I am for that slowness of the summer.
Our summers were spent playing baseball in the middle of our dead end road, yelling “CAR!” if one actually came down the road. We would play kickball, flashlight tag, and board games on different porches. There was bike riding, walking to the convenience store for candy, staying out past the streetlights turning on. There was also swearing, and smoking, and thinking we were immortal. There were first kisses, heartache, tears.
I remember helping my grandmother in her garden when I was younger. I can taste a fresh cucumber with salt, a sun kissed tomato. I can hear her telling me not be afraid of bees, giving me advice that I give to my children now. “Bees are your friends.” Yes, Grammy, they certainly are. My mom planted a garden, too, and if I remember correctly, she had to plant an extra cherry tomato plant just for me and my best friend, who lived next door, because we wouldn’t stop eating them.
We had a trampoline in our backyard. We would spend so much time jumping, singing, drawing with chalk, and lying around. Sometimes we would put a sprinkler underneath on those really hot summer days. One year, my parents got us a tent for the trampoline. We loved have camp outs and it was the perfect gift.
I have so many memories from my childhood summers. There were, of course, fights between friends, times where I was grounded for this or that, and the days of boredom. But those summers. I hope to give my kids those summers.
Summers of watermelon seed spitting contests. Water balloon fights. Laughter. Trouble. Skinned knees. Friends. S’mores. Puddle jumping. Riding bikes no handed. Sleeping under the stars. Ice cream.
There is so much fun to be had at home, and I am so thankful for the appreciation I have for the little things now. Sometimes the need to do more can be overwhelming. But what do kids really need to do? Play. They need the freedom to play. They need the freedom to determine what they want to do with their time whether it be running through mud or riding their bikes. Eating watermelon or having another S’more.
I am thankful for the years I spent in my childhood neighborhood and for the friends I had. I can only hope that my children are as lucky as I was.