Despite the fact that it seems like school just got out, the calendar says that the fair begins this weekend — the ultimate local signal that, indeed, summer’s days are numbered. According to the fliers in the mailbox, it’s time to begin stocking up on No. 2 pencils, folders and crayons. Nevermind that my kids’ used school supplies from last year are still in their backpacks, hanging in the mudroom where they left them following the last day of school.
And really, those backpacks stuffed with art projects, dried out markers and broken crayons are all you need to know about summer me. Summer me is the most irresponsible version of me. Summer me is happy to blow off cooking dinner in favor of a quick dip in the city pool between work and dinner. It is the version of me that wants to spend every evening riding bikes or playing bocce ball and then cruising downtown for an ice cream cone.
Summer me was not always this way. There was a version of me not too long ago that created new chore charts in late May, carefully divvying up age-appropriate responsibilities for each kid. Just to show my kids how fun I really can be, I rotated some chores weekly and color-coded the chore chart. Despite all that pizzazz, the kids never really got interested in the summer chore chart, and requests for help weeding were met with the usual complaints. If my kids have any memories of that special summer chore chart, it’s only as an anecdote — that time when Mom thought she could make cleaning up the dog poop in the yard fun by hanging a color-coded chart on the fridge.
There was the summer of enrichment version of me, which predated the summer of chore charts. That was going to be the summer when we all learned something new. Things started off well enough with a field trip to the Story Fish Hatchery and learning how to bake cookies together. But that was just about as much enrichment as my kids cared to have in their summer.
I cannot say if it is my creeping age and accompanying tiredness, the fact that the school years have become so much busier as our kids entered middle school (and now high school), that my kids have just worn me down, or some combination of all of those, but for whatever reason, I’ve long since abandoned the summers of clever chore charts or elaborately planned enrichment activities. The Hicks family is now thoroughly ensconced in a laissez-faire summer.
We’ll snap out of our summer reverie soon enough. We’ll empty the backpacks of last year’s detritus and restock them. We’ll resume regular bedtimes and wake up times and mealtimes. We’ll drop them off at school and pick them up and get back to the regular grind of practices and responsibilities. And when we do, I hope that they carry with them the joy they felt in experiencing those simple, carefree, summer pleasures — a special rock found on a walk, the cool exhilaration of water hitting their bodies as they plunged into the pool, the tiny thrill of watching lightning bugs come out at night.