Summer. Long days full of all kinds of activities. Running through the sprinkler, swimming in the pool, riding bikes all over town. Nights spent catching fireflies or playing flashlight tag throughout the neighborhood. It seems that so much of the spirit of youth can be captured in memories and thoughts of summertime.
I remember summer days when I felt that the world was completely open in front of me, waiting for me to wrangle it and make out of it whatever I wanted. I remember days spent collecting cans and bottles to redeem for a nickel a piece. That was my first unofficial part-time job.
While some people can’t stand the heat and humidity, I’ll take it over the cold any day. There’s nothing like sweating so much that your clothes soak through. Then, you step into the oasis of an air conditioned room, covered by cool, refreshing air that restores and rejuvenates, preparing you to once again face what once seemed oppressive as you walk through the door into the outside world.
When I was young, the summer seemed to be a “pause” for me, a time to stop moving forward in rat-like fashion and collect my thoughts, regroup, pull myself together. It almost felt like a “timeout” from life while I had a little fun. Somehow, I’ve managed to maintain a little bit of that feeling as I’ve gotten older.
Obviously, things change. It’s not like one can just stop showing up to work in the summer months and expect to remain gainfully employed. But it’s not so much about the time as it is about the attitude as you go through the summer. Work goes on, but it doesn’t seem to feel quite as hectic and urgent as it does from the months of September through May. Responsibilities are still there, as are deadlines and goals, but somehow the urgency of certain things doesn’t feel quite as…….well, urgent.
Laying with my 7 year old the other night, he hugged me and I told him that there would be a day when he wouldn’t want to do that any longer. He just kind of smiled at me with that look that said, “Whatever you say, Daddy!” I hugged and kissed my father until the moment that he breathed his last breath. I can only hope that I can instill in my children the same affection that my mom and dad instilled in me.
But lying there with my son was a reminder to me of how fast time goes. I don’t expect that he’ll want me to lay with him as he drifts off to sleep when he’s fifteen years old……and if he does, there might be a some people who just think that’s weird. The moments that are before me are unique, ready and waiting to be seized. After all, those moments won’t be there forever.
Yet, somehow on summer days, especially when we are young, we feel that those days will last forever. Although they don’t, we can seize every moment and make a memory out of as many of them as we can. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my summers. I want to do whatever I can to make sure that my kids can make the best memories possible with their summers as well.
So, while I can’t play hooky from work for the next two and a half months, I can breathe a little bit while I go about my day. I can start a little earlier and leave a little earlier, seizing those moments that will melt away like the popsicles in the summer heat. I can kick back and watch my children drink in the innocence and joy of the summer. Sure, you can call it living vicariously through them, but if I’m ever going to live vicariously through my children, I think the summertime’s a good time to do it!