Twice this past week I forgot to make lunches. Wednesday morning, at 7:30, as I stood in robe and towel wrapped head, Jack, valedictorian of the Boy Scout preparedness school, looked at me and said, "lunches?".
Our out the door on time departure is 7:45; 7:50 if we race, drive with wild abandon and accept that the dash into school will happen as the second bell sounds. At 7:30 the lunch boxes sat empty and I, still dripping, was lost as to how they got that way.
At 6:00 last night, elbow deep into a flower pot, the little girls covered in dirt, the second layer firmly adhered by the sticky remains of a strawberry fruit pop, I suddenly realized that no homework had been done, not one page. No dinner prepared, no baths taken, no simple addition completed, we were one hour away from bed time, a time far too early but dictated by the horrific hour we awake each day to begin the race to school, and still completely engaged in the work of summer. As with the weather, our priorities had shifted overnight, from sight words and fractions to sunflowers and popsicles.
It's warm and sunny. It was 91 degrees in Chicago yesterday, only beaten in the mercury by the consistently tropical Minneapolis. An aberration I know but one we embrace. The girls are wearing shorts and sundresses, the dog is panting, Jack is griping about the heat and we are ready for summer. After nine months, wonderful months of paper and paint, letters and numbers, music and dance, it's time for sand and sunblock.
The race to the end of the hall is as clear to me now as it was thirty years ago. Bag stuffed with every precious work I spent the year creating, I ran at the final bell to sunshine and swimming pools, the last few weeks of being trapped in a classroom absolute torture. The long windows on the side of the building opened to allow in a stifling warm breeze, and with it, the sound of the custodian mowing and the smell of freshly cut grass. From the inside looking out summer seemed like years away, and then it magically appeared and my days were spent not at a desk but immersed in whatever water I could find.Summer, when I was five, went on forever, in fact almost all my days were summer, with just a few weeks of cold thrown in to celebrate Christmas. Lemonade stands with Stephanie, gymnastic shows with Mary and Josie, hours spent in the church parking lot learning to ride my new bike, afternoons saddled behind Dad on his horse, and days upon days of doing nothing, my summer lasted forever. As it should, because you only have one summer to spend being five, best to make the most of it.