The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

“Summer is short” well that does depends on who you ask...

I can remember the time so vividly; lying in a hammock on a hot summer's day, engrossed in a book from the library, muscles rejuvenating from a run, hearing nothing but the rustling of leaves as a cool, afternoon breeze brushes across my face. I would often stop to gaze up at the sky, and as relaxing as it was, I couldn't help but countdown the days until school began again, when I could see my friends every day, walk the halls with a purpose - and dread my homework each night. During the school year I knew everyone was doing the same thing and I didn't feel left out. My experience of summer as different, it seemed like everyone else was busy but me.
Today, living with neighborhood kids on both sides of me, I have a feeling that I wasn't the only kid who was feeling left out.
One 9-year-old neighbor visits my house frequently as she enjoys playing with my 2-year-old daughter.  She plays with us in the pool, decorates our deck with sidewalk chalk and gets ice cream with us every Tuesday when the ice cream truck comes through our neighborhood.  I do notice, though, that when we play, she's frequently looking across the street to see if her peers are home. When they are, she is quick to say, "gotta go" and rushes across the street (to which we take no offense.)
I can see that she too can't wait to go back to school to be with friends. When I see my neighbor riding her bike, as if everyone else has some place to go yet she wasn't invited, I want to tell her what has been said to me before: "Summer is over-rated."
My friend's older sister first said this to me. The summer's day had been blistering hot and my friend and I were inside with nothing to do. Her sister came into the room, saw us twiddling our thumbs and said, "don't feel bad, summer's over-rated." Perhaps the older sister was speaking from experience, or perhaps she was just trying to make us feel better, for we too, had felt like the uninvited guests at a party during that summer.
Everyone says summer is short, it is only a couple of months long for most school children, and it's supposed to be a time when kids are free to play, without expectations, time limits, and stress. With this freedom is the preconceived notion that kids are happier. Though as I sit on my front porch, watching my neighbor trying to make the best of her summer, I hear myself say to her, "don't feel bad, summer's over-rated," with a bit of a gloat as I am proud to pass on some advice that helped me when I was struggling with the same left-out feelings.
As I recline in a lawn chair and push my kids in their swings on this sweltering hot day, engrossed in their actions as yet another breeze brushes my face, I am struck with the sudden realization that childhood will forever be a memory that I will vaguely look back on. What once was a moment in time that I thought would last for eternity has now become a hazy, clouded image.  With eyes squinting at the sky, I think, "Why was I always in such a hurry to keep up with the others?" 
I wish I could tell my young neighbors to relax, have fun, and don't worry about keeping up with the others as these years will be over before you know it, but of course that perspective can only be understood with age.