The calendar still suggests summer, but in certain parts of the country, there is a touch of fall in the air. Here in Colorado Springs, we had our first 40 degree night in months just yesterday.
There is another sign of the coming change: in our family, the boys have headed back to school. Trent is now in the 4th grade and his younger brother, Troy, started 2nd.
I am grateful, of course, to see our boys grow and mature. What father doesn’t count his blessings when he sees his sons shine?
But there is a tinge of sadness, too, though it’s a mostly selfish emotion.
As I’ve mentioned before in this space, there are a finite number of summers in every childhood. Although ours was marked by some job stress and an injury that left me hobbled and on crutches, there was still a magic and beauty to the months of June, July and early August. But now with the tick-tock of the clock, one of those precious few seasons has passed.
Call me a sentimental sap, but it’s always hard to see the boys transition back to class. I wonder if you feel this way, but sometimes I think our children change and mature more quickly outside of the school year. Is it because we see them more often?
Or might it be simply because they have more time to try new things outside the confines of the classroom?
I saw our boys grow in courage and tenacity these past weeks, especially from a week of fun and adventure at camp. They don’t seem to be the exact same boys as when we sat drinking milkshakes together on the last day of school in May.
Because they aren’t, of course.
But neither am I.
And neither are you.
When you’re a child, teachers often ask you to write about your summer vacation. And when you’re a kid, you tend to write about your time in terms of places you’ve gone and things you’ve seen. Some children write about camps and cookouts and capturing fireflies in old mayonnaise jars. Others write about movies and summer jobs.
This is a good exercise, but those are just facts and events. If I were a teacher, I’d ask my students to not just write about where they went and what they saw, but instead what they’ve learned – and how these summer months have changed them.
As for me, I didn’t just break my ankle this summer; I learned a great lesson to take life more slowly and appreciate the seemingly simple act of walking on two legs.
We didn’t just get stranded with a broken-down truck; I was reminded that kids care more about spending time with their dad than they care about where dad takes them.
I didn’t just lose my friend to sudden death; I was reminded again that there are no guarantees in life and to live as if each day were my last.
As parents, I think we would be wise to try to help our children see their time, whether in school or out, in terms of its impact and significance. It’s exciting and fun to go places and see people, but to what end do we do what we do?
I am reminded of a teacher who once tried to introduce her students to the art of story-telling.
“If I was to tell you,” she began, “that the King died and then the Queen died, well, that’s a mere sequence of events. But if I were to tell you that the King died – and the Queen died of grief, well, now THAT’S a story.”
Taken and processed as a mere sequence of events, life can be dull and boring, void of its magic and mystery. Yet, when we see it in terms of its drama, insight and adventure, life takes on a new perspective.
So, let me ask you:
How has this summer changed you and your family?