1, 2, 3, breathe…

by bam

the little one dashed in the door. “i’m in first grade now.” the big one slept ’til noon. it’s official, we’re out of school. the summer can begin.
bring on the lemonade. the stalks of mint pirouetting out from every icy glass. bring on the pb&j, smeared, sliced and delivered in one fell swoop. no more lunch bags. bring on the big fat book, the one whose pages will be ruffled, worn, splashed, dried, splashed again, before the story ends.
bring on the wide-open unstructured days. the days when no schedule whatsoever might drive a mama mad, by, um, 10 a.m.
gulp. here we go. time to fill the days, the weeks, the months, with the stuff that summer’s made of. the stuff your kiddies count on. the stuff that puts summer up in lights, makes it the thing that children locked in school desks dream of, the stuff that gets the breathless mamas ’round the final bend.
knowing, any minute now, there will be no more, no more.
no more keeping track of papers and permission slips. no more rolling sleeping tree trunks out of bed at dawn. no more light seeping out from under the bedroom door well past midnight because there is a kid and a computer, racing to beat a morning deadline.
no more friday folders, the thing we’ve come to love, to count on, when a week of kindergarten work gets poured onto the maple table and we all sit around and ooh and ahhh. and a little boy feels so very proud.
i do believe this is a twisty time. on the one hand, breathe. on the other, oh my goodness. what now?
i wonder, i really do, how many minutes it will be ’til we’re in tears here. ’til the training wheels get wobbly, or the ice cream rolls off the cone. or, lord, oh lord, it is so hard for sweet delicious summer to live up to its bright and shining billing.
already, my big one, the one who heaved a heaving sigh when all was done, well, already, he has mentioned that it is strange, and sort of lonely, to be left alone all day with just your thoughts, and no bumping into friends every five seconds in the crowded hallways where good company, ever-changing company, is just a locker or a classroom or a lunch table away. and where a phone call is not a part of the equation, of the exchange. where your mama and your kid brother might be the only other humans you bump up against all day.
summer is like that. an ample dose of shadow with the sunlight, the never-ending sunlight. it is a law of physics, of nature, of the divine. let there be light. let there be darkness. so sayeth the holy book.
for every night out under the stars, there are swarms of mosquitoes. for every jingling of the ice cream truck and its distant drawing-near-you bell, there is the chance that you won’t hear it, won’t find your wallet, ’til the truck is past your house and around two corners, and you are left with an ice cream believer in tears, there at the empty, cone-free curb.
on the kid side of the equation, summer is infinite, and fairly endless, too. it is day after day of decisions no bigger than strawberry or raspberry jam with that peanut butter.
but to a mama, egad, look out. it can be daunting when what’s expected is pure, 100-percent, old-fashioned fun. planned by you, the cheery tour director.
not in this house, people. i find myself wanting. i find myself coming up short in the summer fun department.
do i pack a picnic every sunny day? i do not. do i haul my kiddies back and forth to the pool every blessed afternoon, like some of the other mommies? i do not. do i remember sunscreen? no.
heck, two-to-one, i forget to stock up on buns to wrap around the hot dogs that are dozing in the meat drawer of the fridge.
why the big harrumph here, you ask? why the grouchy, grumpy grumbling?
did we not just barrel down the pike, finally reach our exit, pull up the ramp, find a shady spot to park there under the pines?
geez, i don’t mean to be a gnat dive-bombing your drippy popsicle. hate to be the chill wind that brings you goosebumps there in your sensible swimsuit, the one with the little skirt that hides those cottage-cheese thighs.
guess it’s just, well, i’ve been here before, started out the summer daydreaming of all that might be. only to wind up, down the road in august, wistful for what wasn’t, feeling sunken, ship-wrecked, for all i did not do.
so here’s to a summer of realistic, reasonable intentions.
i will surrender to the easy ways.
to afternoons in the summer house, not minding that half the screens have holes so the bugs can cozy in beside me.
to lemonade stands, with lemonade stirred from powdered drink mix.
to naked hot dogs.
to random, not regular, trips to the library, the ice cream store, the beach—those stalwarts of summer, each, but ones that lose their joy if provided on calculated schedule instead of whim.
i will not flog my sorry self for not lining up the A+ summer jaunt, the sunrise trail ride, complete with blue-corn flapjacks and cowboy ghee-tar strains.
i will not wince when we finally pack a picnic but leave the drinks in the cooler back in the garage, where we put them down, so we could haul out the junk from the station wagon to make room for the wicker basket.
i will not beat my breast because another summer’s passed me by, and i’ve yet to make it to the ferris wheel that calls my little one’s name every single time we drive zooming by.
it’s been a really, really long school year. it’s had its ups and downs, its scrapes, its spills.
excuse me while i sit back and let the summer merely be.

summer forecast: accumulated clouds with plenty of sunshine. occasional storms. a rainbow once or twice. not such a nasty forecast, is it? what do you hope to do this summer? what tales of summer letdown do you have to get the good times rolling? and what about school’s out traditions?
we buy a book. go somewhere silly for lunch. last night, as it was afternoon kindergarten we were winding up, we went for hot dogs and lollipops. the night before it was escargot for the eighth grader. my boys are from opposite sides of the moon, what’s a mama to do? love them each madly, the snails, the lollipops, both…..