This week’s column

Pub­li­ca­tion: Free­dom — OCR - Pla­cen­tia News-Times; Date:July 7, 2017; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: 3

Sum­mer, like the times, is a changin’

Sum­mer used to be an idyl­lic time of jus­ti­fied lazi­ness. Should I go find my friends for a game of tag, or find a shady spot and read a book? The pos­si­bil­i­ties were infi­nite, and they were all mine, or at least they felt that way.

And then I became an adult and sum­mer was another, hot­ter sea­son of going to work, and doing laundry.

When Mar­cus started school, I had flash­backs to those won­der­ful times. I thought we could go to the park, to muse­ums, or just hap­pily do noth­ing. It was a sweet dream.

The first prob­lem I encoun­tered was that sum­mer recess was now short. When I was a kid, we began school after Labor Day and ended before Memo­r­ial Day. Mar­cus typ­i­cally started school some­time in August and was released around mid-June. Basi­cally, he had July, with some spillover.

This was not a bad thing, since I was a work­ing mom. Raytheon was not going to give me an entire sum­mer off to hang out with my child. Mar­cus had to be some­where else, doing some­thing else, while I slaved away over a hot computer.

I enrolled him in sum­mer camps, doing every­thing from art to sports to sci­ence. He learned to fire pot­tery, build a robot, and play roller hockey. Most of these camps were a week long, so I had to keep track of where he was sup­posed to be at any given time.

Being an engi­neer, this meant a spreadsheet.

August was a tricky month. The com­pa­nies host­ing sum­mer camps cal­cu­lated that August was their low­est per­form­ing month, so they offered less. They obvi­ously didn’t con­sult me, or what I sus­pect are hun­dreds of work­ing moms and dads out there who still need August activities.

Thank­fully, Morse Ele­men­tary School began their day­care a week early, or Dale and I would have been scram­bling to adjust our schedules.

As I let go of my sum­mer dreams and embraced real­ity, I knew that Mar­cus may not have enjoyed even one month of doing noth­ing. We didn’t have any kids his age in the neigh­bor­hood, and he had no sib­lings to play with.

Play­ing is dif­fer­ent, too, these days. In my youth, I hit the door after break­fast and often didn’t come home until dusk. My friends and I drifted into back­yards, rode our bikes up and down the street, and some­times inves­ti­gated the corn­field on the cor­ner, even though we’d been told not to.

I’m fairly cer­tain my mom had no idea where I was, but could still reach me the old-fashioned way—by stand­ing on the front steps and call­ing my name. I could hear her from two blocks away.

There was no way for me to let Mar­cus have that kind of free­dom, even if he had a dozen friends in our neigh­bor­hood. We have been warned too well, and now we know too much.

I some­times feel badly that my son didn’t get to expe­ri­ence those kinds of sum­mers, and asked him about it once. He responded that he couldn’t miss what he didn’t know, and that he was pretty happy doing what­ever we signed him up to do. His only regret came when he grad­u­ated from college.

I thought I’d have a lit­tle time to rest before I had to adult,” he told me.

Sum­mer or win­ter, I think we can all agree on that.

Long­time Pla­cen­tia res­i­dent Gayle Car­line tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, com­puter whiz and horse­woman. E-mail her at [email protected].

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