One of the saddest moments when you’ve become an adult is when you realize that summer is not what it used to be.
Gone are the days of playing hopscotch, climbing trees, and getting on your mother’s nerves.
Gone are the days when the only deadline is getting home in time for supper.
The lazy hours reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books, or playing King of the Mountain with the kids next door, has become a thing of the past. Long afternoons sprawled out in the grass, with nothing to do except study the shapes of clouds, are a luxury.
Strange that you have failed to notice that Mom has been working very hard to make your summer carefree. Picnic food miraculously appears in the refrigerator. It is prepared to perfection and placed in front of you, its nutritional value calculated in Mom’s ever-vigilant mind. Dad comes home from work, where he has earned the money to pay for the summer road-trip, which he will plan with care. (We will, as always, stay one night at a roadside motel because the owners have a goat, and all year long you – the youngest child – have been hollering, “Can we stay at the place with the goat?” Not only do you stay at the place with the goat, but Mom, who thinks of everything, has thoughtfully brought carrots.) Somehow, the station wagon has got itself tuned up and filled with gas. Somehow, everything falls into place.
The hardest thing you have to do is decide which toys and books will fit into your little suitcase.
Next thing you know, you’re in junior high. You are now moody and hormonal. Skinned knees have been replaced with zits. You have braces on your teeth. You quarrel constantly with your older siblings. Mom suddenly decides that what you need in the summer is a “schedule.” You become a babysitter with regular gigs and a five-day-a-week volunteer at United Way.
You now own an alarm clock, and you own a watch.
In a flash, you have grown up. You have graduated college. You find your first real job, and are shocked to realize that you will work 60-plus hours a week, including most weekends and holidays, and – gasp – all summer long. There is nothing special about summer. Alas, it is just another part of the year.
But somewhere along the line, you fight to get summer back. Your older siblings begin to have children, which provides you with a great excuse. You take time off from work to be a doting auntie, and get to act like a child again.
You now look for ways to re-live the summers of your childhood. You arrange for the old family boat to be removed from storage, and rehabilitate it. You learn to pilot the old boat yourself.
You read outside. You lay in the grass.
You watch the clouds float by.
And you thank dear old Mom and Dad for teaching you the joys of simple summer pleasures which last a lifetime.