With the month of August comes the return of impending to-do lists and back-to-school. I found myself in our local office supply store, cart loaded, as I checked lists and circulars; circling deals and needed items. A bulging backpack of paperwork has resided next to my work desk, since June, awaiting to be rifled through for PTA. Father Time is stealing my minutes and days away as the sunlight hours begin to shorten.
As I walked with my laden cart, a flurry of texts came through my phone. It was my childhood girlfriend, a teacher, and as the middle son tugged on the cart to find the next item on his school list I had to laugh out loud. She is my eldest son’s godmother and teaches junior high. I re-read her text stating she wants her children, ages 10 & 8, to get a job for their last two weeks of summer; to make them understand the meaning of real work. They were throwing around the B work (for b-o-r-i-n-g) and how their Mom never let them do fun things. She then proceeded to text me pictures of her kids on a rock wall, at an ice cream parlor; the very un-fun things her kids have enjoyed thus far. Her comment rang true.
“We are so projects oriented that relaxing has lost its meaning.”
Just an hour prior, my youngest son used my phone to snap the picture below; his older brothers and I sorting parts for the guys to run them through the machines. This week has been busy and so we tasked the boys to help in the shop, their hands coated gray from handling the various steel rods. Though they initially grumbled; they quickly plopped down and, literally, got their hands dirty. We took a break to run errands for work and school before returning to do more of the same.
The above girlfriend and I attended Title 1 schools and never had school supply requirements. Prior to moving away to San Diego for three years, my current children’s elementary school did not have detailed lists. I recall showing my San Diego list to one of the teachers in first grade and she gasped as she saw the two pages of items. At that time our school was not allowed to request for extensive supplies; to not exclude families who could not provide these items for their child. This policy has since changed. Though preferred brand items are not listed on these pages, the list is drastically different. The above first grade teacher, now in third grade, has helped generate the current list we held in our hands for my incoming third grader. An hour flew by as we pushed our, completely full basket, out the automatic sliding doors. It is not cheap purchasing school supplies for three children. The only item purchased for work; a 2014 desk calendar, on sale. Where is the easy button when I need it?
My girlfriend’s thoughts remained in my head. Friends since, age 9, her vision and insight has always been one of my favorite things about her. We muddle through our parenting stages together and my thoughts are in sync with her own. After the advent of video games and technology, the generations of kids and adults, alike, need constant entertainment. It used to be that kids would spend all their waking hours, outside, with neighborhood kids; kicking balls and riding bikes. We came home when the sun went down. These days the streets are empty; air conditioners whirring as kids sit indoors or are driven to various enrichment classes. As I sat with the boys and sorted parts after our shopping excursion, I asked them how they felt about their summer. I, too, expected the B word to emerge from their mouths; being stuck at work at our family business, most days.
Another hour passed as the boys and I chatted. Summer was flying by too fast. They had forgotten their time in junior lifeguarding and the memories they remember are of only two things: the beach and camping. Today I sit at my work desk on a day we normally take off, catching up before we leave on our next camping installation. It is a lot of work; camping. But the time they spend unplugged has worked its magic; their paces slowed, their minds rested. This, truly, is how I imagine summer to be for my children; not boring nor completely filled with activity. Instead of instant gratification I want them to feel delayed anticipation. To learn to wait. Patience in life.
As we drove in to work, this morning, the hubs and I argued over the meaning of levity; our vocabulary word for the day. The boys laughed at us from the back seat and prompted the middle son to note that the hubs and I were made for each other.