I admit it.
Summer is in its final days. Even I, ardent observer of both solstice and equinox, must admit that summer is nearing its close.
I can feel the sun pulling away. The light is softer, dreamier; the days shorter. These are some of my favorite days of summer. The crowds recede from public places, like waves shrinking back into the ocean.
Mother Nature weeps in fury at being forced to turn over another season (see: hurricanes). Most children in America have been ensconced in their places of learning for a week or more. And if they are still "on the loose" they will soon report back to duty.
In these moments when I mourn the passing of yet another summer (this disturbs me yearly at a deep level), I take solace in the fact that my children and I can take a few more precious weeks to bid the season "adieu."
A few things remain on my bucket list:
- Trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
- Go to a Yankees game
- Explore the southern coast of Maine
- Take my kids to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
We could do these things at many different times throughout the year, but something about the summer just makes it a little more magical.
Of course, it also makes me reflect on our choice to opt-out of the mainstream ways of schooling. Our "dance card" is full to over-flowing, however, we've decided that jumping up to bells and whistles in the wee hours is not for us.
At the optometrist today, our doctor joked in passing with my boys about the return of the dreaded school year (he doesn't know we opt-out) -- he exhorted my oldest to enjoy the last two weeks of summer. I tried to tell my optometrist that summer is not over until September 21st. He looked momentarily startled, like he had missed an important global announcement. When I brought up the whole "solstice/equinox" thing he shook his head and said something about that being irrelevant if you can't sleep in. Well...as a matter of fact...
I'm glad for a lot of reasons that our return-to-schooling time is a bit non-traditional. Especially today, when I hear a student in Baltimore was shot on his first day back at school. What really caught my attention was the placement of the story...fairly low priority on the news list. Just another school shooting. Just another kid angry about a Facebook post. Oh well. Lockdowns, shootings, sadness, death. It's just another piece of bad news.
As 97% of children prepare to return, or have returned to school (about 1,500,000 or 3% of children are homeschooled in the United States), I think about all the things that have been taken away too early...summers, innocence, childhood. I don't know how much more they need to surrender for us to seriously consider doing things another way.
But it's not all bad. Maybe we'll be able to enjoy the museums without being jostled to death in the Impressionist wing of the Met. Maybe we'll venture out to the beach with the hope that we won't have to lay towel-to-towel with the cast of Jersey Shore. Maybe we'll go up north and enjoy the half-price mid-week off-season rates that no one else can take advantage of.
It's ok if you can't join me. Maybe you'll change your mind. Maybe next year.