With only a few weeks of “freedom” left the kids are restless. They are bored and some will even admit to being ready for school to begin. We have done a lot of things this summer and had a lot of company come to visit. Our summer time has been teeming with tennis, golfing, swimming, gardening, boating, visiting and sitting outside on the deck in the evenings. Add in all the rain, which produces mowing and we have been busy. This is not an anomaly either. Every year, without fail, we spend hours thinking about and planning our summer.
We think about places we want to go visit and plan for different camps. We create idealistic scenarios where the summer is one glorious event after another. The reality is that unleashed summer fun can get tiresome. The sameness of everyday combined with the heat makes for some fussy children. I find it interesting that summer does this to us every year. In May we create the expectations and by August we are on our knees praying for school to begin. Well, parents might see this cycle differently than children.
When we are expecting company it sounds so fun and we make plans. By the end of the week we are broadly smiling as we explain that we really don’t mind getting them to the airport five hours early. Parenting has many of these same cycles. We can’t wait for them to say their first words and then soon, VERY soon, we can’t wait for them to shut up. We want them to be independent and then way too soon, we bawl our eyes out because they won’t let us comb their hair again.
As I have gotten older I find that this is a phenomenon that happens in life in general. Perhaps this is some kind of life cycle that they don’t show in the science books at school. It could be called the Excited Expectation Versus Reality Cycle or something along those lines. We get excited about something and we make plans and then about the middle of the event we begin to wish it were finished and we could move on to something else.
Material things seem to take up a lot of room in this particular cycle. We convince ourselves that we need something and we finally get it and it is not what we really want. For instance, the pre-teen gets excited when he goes into Game Stop. He has expectations based on the cover art of the different games. He uses his mowing money to purchase a game. He gets home and within a day or two the game has lost all of its appeal. In short – he is bored!
I love to garden but I have seen others go buy all kinds of plants and never get them planted, or they plant and never water. I guess they see the potential of a large garden but don’t think about the work. The magazines get us all worked up until we think a twelve acre flower garden is doable in a few minutes a night. I have to admit that I have taken on too much before because of some fantastic picture I had in my head of what my yard could like – IF I had the time and the money and the muscles and the land and, and, and. AND I recycle through this with nearly every magazine!
And in other areas, I am guilty as well. I think a few days at the gym will help me to be perfectly healthy and fit but I don’t really want to give up my Dr. Pepper. So that cycle has to be recycled on a pretty consistent basis. I want our Christmases to be special and Thanksgivings to be remembered in the future stories that the children and grandchildren tell and yet it seems that holidays get harder and harder to recycle.
The summer/back-to-school cycle is prevalent not only for kids but for teachers and parents as well. We hit the end of July and our stress levels increase. We have things to do and lessons to get ready. We push in one last trip and buy clothes and try to wrangle in a haircut. It often feels like a time of panic.
“School will be starting soon, we better not, we have to have money for supplies and clothes.” Sound familiar? Yeah, to me too. I have been doing the summer/back-to-school cycle for many years and this year is no different. The biggest difference is that for the first time I am back in the classroom BEFORE the kids are in theirs. Usually colleges and universities begin after the kids do, but some quirk of nature has me starting almost two weeks before the kids do this year.
Surely, along with the political situation, this weird cycle proves that the end is near!
And it is. The end of summer that is.
For those of you beginning to prepare classrooms and lessons and field trips may you be filled with grace and kindness towards your students, whether they be toothless or sport a five o’clock shadow. It is not an easy calling, but for those you serve it can make all the difference in the world.
Thank you Teachers for recycling every year!