Not So Endless Summer

Summer is over.

No, it’s still hot as hell here in Satan’s armpit Arizona and will continue to be hot as hell up to and including Halloween. But the end of summer has nothing to do with a change in the seasons and everything to do with the calendar and one particular date: the day my kids go back to school.

I hate the start of school. Hate-hate-hate it because it means nights of homework and the corresponding tears and tantrums. It means getting used to a new teacher. It means a whole new year of tests and fear and worry.

Did I mention that my oldest will be starting 4th grade?

Grumpy cat

I finally succumbed to the infernal Grumpy Cat memes.

Last year was not the most pleasant of experiences for us in the Wittman home. Last year was, funny enough, also the first year my daughter, my oldest child, had to take the AIMS test. At the tender age of nine, she has developed a nasty, pernicious case of test anxiety, so bad, in fact, that she has vomited in the school parking lot just thinking about tests. And the classroom. And the playground. I should point out that this began when she was in the FIRST GRADE.

I’m not going to go on a rant about Common Core or the horrid ‘teach-to-the-test’ mindset required of teachers thanks to the brilliant ‘No Child Left Behind’ initiative. What I will say is that I’m sad summer is over and, with it, nights staying up late reading Harry Potter together. Movies. Swimming. Pool parties. Lazy days and evenings with nothing on the agenda.

I know I’ll sound old-fashioned and quite possibly lazy, misguided and obsolete when I say this, but doing nothing is good for the soul, especially a child’s. My kids did not accomplish a lot this summer. I didn’t enroll them in summer camp or otherwise structure their lives. Instead, they went to the library a lot and checked out whatever books interested them. They played Legos and fashioned space ships and cars and even the Griffyndor dormitory from Harry Potter. They built forts with couch cushions and blankets. They drew lots and lots of pictures. The three of them played together, and also got on each other nerves and yelled a lot because that’s what siblings do.

All of this will fade away next Thursday when the first school bell rings. I will be sad and I know I will fight back tears. You would think I would be over the tearful goodbyes at this point in my mom career, but it never gets easier. This summer was about as perfect as life can get and I know we have precious few of them ahead of us. Another year will pass, then another and soon we will be scouting colleges.

I just want to make today last, this perfect moment when all three of my children are close to me and free expressing their joy and love. I know there will never be another time in my life as wonderful as this one.

So for reasons very different from those I had as a kid, I want summer to last forever.