catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 13 :: 2010.06.25 — 2010.07.08


When every day is Saturday

Alyssa’s school year ended earlier than most. She almost gloated as the yellow school buses rolled by the house that morning. However, the first glorious day of summer vacation found my twelve-year-old daughter and me in the orthodontist’s office.

Our heads turned as the office door creaked open. An elementary-age girl in a school uniform, followed by her mom, entered the waiting area for an unplanned repair job. “Wouldn’t you know it? On my last day of freedom,” the mother complained to the receptionist, loudly enough for all to hear. I glanced at the little girl. Did she catch the irritated tone, the resigned complaint, the inferred dread of the summer ahead?

I reached into yesterday’s memory to retrieve my own attitude. I guarded the last day before vacation too, savoring the last quiet, predictable day for a while. I even felt a little apprehensive about the coming weeks of vacation. But as un-quiet and unpredictable as summer can be, I’ve learned that it’s a season overflowing with opportunities.

During fall, winter and spring, we cater to the school’s schedule, agenda and requirements. But in the summer, all that changes. We have more choices and time to work and play together, to mentor (formally and informally) and to invest with intention. 

But it’s tricky. How do we balance recreation with responsibility? I want my children to roll with their rhythms, explore their interests and celebrate the season. At the same time, they need to practice life skills and help out at home, in the garden and in the community.

Over the years, I’ve found summer more manageable if I break it down into three sections: June, July and August. I jot down activity ideas (from the kids, too), topics to chat about and skills to hone. We try to space out day trips, vacations and play dates among quiet days, library trips, projects and service. It doesn’t always turn out that way, but a plan and a few goals help keep us on track toward a more balanced yet flexible summer.

On the way home from getting her braces adjusted, Alyssa mentioned the conversation in the waiting room. “I felt bad for that girl,” she said with concern. So did I.                  

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Perhaps summer is the season for parents to adjust some of their personal expectations and ambitions and try to…enjoy their children. To be more proactive than reactive. To read to them, play with them, work alongside them. To emphasize their individual value and uniqueness.

Later that day, I sent Alyssa to see if the freezer we emptied that morning had defrosted and was ready to be cleaned. As I came down the basement steps, there she was, inside the empty chest, peeking out at me with laughing eyes. The job was finished. She’d cleaned the freezer out for me — except for two footprints at one end! At that moment, I knew this summer would be okay. Not perfect, but we could enjoy one day, one week, one month at a time. By the end of August, I’ll be tired and ready for the school doors to open once more. But, with God’s grace, “no more teachers, no more books” has the potential to create some special memories — even when every day seems like Saturday!

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