Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

Millie writes:

Well, here where we live – in the Pacific Northwest – the sun is still more of a rumor. However, the fact remains that our kids have one more week of school to endure before achieving the holiest of the scholastic Holy Grails:

summer vacation!

The mere words conjure up visions of sandy beaches, umbrella-ed drinks and lazy days spent poolside. Never mind the fact that the reality is far more likely to be mosquito bites, TV headaches and boredom; the idea of summer vacation is almost as good as summer vacation itself.

When our kids were preschool/grade school aged I would make a summer calendar with a tiny adventure penciled in for each day. This sounds like a huge undertaking for someone with small children until you realize that most days the only extra work was looking at the calendar. “Picnic on the lawn” means “you're making lunch ANYWAY, stick the sandwiches in a baggie and take them outside!” There are a lot of things that are fun to do that don't require much work on your part (“painting” the driveway with brushes and water, a teddy-bear tea party on the patio) – for some reason, the fact that they are written on a calendar makes them officially adventurous.

Now that our people are older they generally make their own plans, though we do have an “adventure theme” for the summer. Last year it was Bachelor Camp; another year we made it our goal to find every fountain in the city.

Since I am the Traditions Queen, I'm sure it surprises no one that we've developed traditions for the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. On the last day of school (or the LAST last day of school, if you have kids in more than one school and they don't get out on the same day) we have ice cream, and I pass out 3x5 cards upon which are written the following prompts:

This summer, I want to learn:

This summer, I want to try:

We talk a lot about how people want to spend the next three months, and I post everyone's goals on the kitchen bulletin board as a reminder. Some of their past ideas:

To learn: knitting, trigonometry, how to shuffle cards, driving, how to make two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners

To try: starting a band, volunteering weekly, saving $30, traveling alone, rock climbing

Surprisingly, more of these things get done than don't. My kids are of an age to pretty much determine their own social lives, but I still make sure to schedule some weekly adventure like a geocaching trip or a backyard campfire. Last weekend our adult children were remarking that the thing they miss the most about being kids is getting a summer vacation.

I say it's not about whether you actually get the time off, it's all about the attitude!

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