Wed, Aug 21, 2013 01:55 PM
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
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.