Summer Break

 

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During the school year our family tastes like a granola bar.  We are healthy and effective and often flavored with sweet bits.  We do chores and school and spend time in healthy, enriching activities with plenty of exercise and friendship.  Every hour has a purpose directed towards being good stewards of our time and relationships.  It’s not that we are so busy we are neglecting our family- many of our daily activities are focused on family bonding- but the rhythm of our activities carries us along from September straight through May.  When school ends much of our structure falls away leaving an excess of time- whole days in fact, with no commitments- just time together.  In that atmosphere our family takes on a new, sweeter flavor.  It starts with wild strawberries picked beside every sidewalk as we meander through errands.  Then add cokes- cold from the snack machine on the pool deck- purchased with carefully compiled coins carried in pockets and dirty fists.  Cup after cup of lemonade, sold under a glittery sign, and cookies baked in a dust cloud of flour and preteen laughter.  I love the summer as it picks up its own current.  With sisters holding each other’s hands through doctor’s visits.  A big sister teaching a little one to swim, and play hot crossed buns on the recorder.  Brothers who seem to dwell in the different worlds of adolescence and elementary school all year long build a digital world just for the two of them, with next door houses and matching hot tubs.  For a girl who is pulled along all school year in her peer’s rush to grow up, our house becomes an island, full of time on daddy’s lap and spying behind corners- invisible in black- writing down conversations over heard.  No longer thinking about school and activities my mind has time to consider what’s really important- in my parenting, in my heart.  No longer having the cushions of our structure and routines mean that conflicts deal straight with the heart and in healing we grow together. Sweetness spills out of an open book as everyone- even teenagers and adults- beg for just one more chapter, out of conversations taking place when we should be sleeping.  Sometimes it is squeezed out from between white knuckles as we try new things, like the high dive, or bruised and battered into shape as we struggle through making peace.   During summer I get to know my kid’s friends, get to make them part of our family for a day at a time, and I get to know my kids- all the new things about them that have snuck in.  At times the taste of summer becomes a little too rich- towers of pizza boxes and soda cans on a table on the pool deck- bedtimes that just never seem to come- glow sticks and bubbles spilled all over the playground in the dark- we could never live on summer alone, but these sweet times are tying the strings that will support our family during the practicality of our working and accomplishing in the school year to come.   In the past I have been tempted to minimize summer break.  Being homeschoolers we often just skipped it all together, or shortened it to a week or two, or replaced it with a sort of softer “summer school” with fewer subjects.  When I married and gained two kids in the public school we had to take summer break, but I still resisted it, filling our time off with enriching activates and lots of structure as if summer itself was something to be avoided.  Turns out, I was wrong.  The lack of time constraints, sheer quantity of time together, and the fun activates that we fall into as a family strengthen our family’s character and build the network of ties that support our relationships through the rest of the year.  Summer break is a gift.

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Tinsel in hair, summer is the perfect time for reading the Complete Works of Dr. Suess.Image

Or for painting your toes…

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Teaching your six year old brother to shave…Image

Building a tower of chocolate chip pancakes…

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Reading as a family…

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And just being goofy for no reason at all!

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