Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Building A Summer

Mary and Kate are playing Famous Architects. It's a new game, surely borne out of recently spending four days in Michigan with four architects. They've got a wine box, tons of construction paper, a soon to be depleted glue stick, colored pencils and Velcro hair rollers, dug out from the depths of the bathroom cabinet. A city is rising before me on the carpet outside their playroom.

It's a necessary reminder, that some of the best days are spent playing at home with supplies on hand. In these last few weeks before school begins, I am hurriedly checking items off my summer to do list. Yesterday morning was spent at the History Museum where we explored freedom in Chicago, wedding traditions, Chinatown and Chicago hot dog making. Monday we were at a water playground trying to escape the mad Midwestern heat. Tomorrow there is a program at the local library, Friday we've got plans to go to the beach.

As adamant as I am about lazy summers, I panic when I realize that lazy summers, on our current schedule, are only about 10 weeks long, and we've got less than four weeks to go before autumn hits and school begins. There are still things on my list to cross off: The Children's Museum, open symphony rehearsals, baseball, miniature golf, napping. We'll never get it all in, we never do. And knowing there are only 11 more summers before summer becomes simply a season characterized by heat and humidity, not a wonderful respite from school and schedules and alarm clocks, provides me little comfort.

The talk on the playground at the end of the school year was summer camp. I politely abstained. Summer camp when I was a kid meant packing your bags and heading off to Colorado or Minnesota for three weeks, not a daily 9:00 am excursion to the park, or nature center, or art museum. Too much like school, to scheduled, too much of what I wanted summer not to be, I passed on summer camp, realizing that in choosing not to work, I have chosen to spend my days with the girls, accepting the periodic insanity directly related to that decision.

Maybe sanity is overrated. Maybe I only have, relatively speaking, a short time to spend my Friday afternoons at the beach with two small but rapidly growing beach bums. Sand castles one day, wine bottle box cities the next, lazy summer afternoons building cities and memories, just what I really want to cross off that to do list.

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