Thursday, July 28, 2011

The calendar doesn't lie

From today's Briefing:

Twenty-five days.
Depending on your point of view, that number either strikes fear into your heart or sets your heart afire.
Twenty-five days until school starts.
Historically by this time of summer, I’m counting the days because it’s long past time to return my children to the loving, firm care of folks with degrees in education and child development. Usually by now, my supply of summer patience has been irreversibly depleted.
This time last year, the arguing between Cooper and Katie had reached unprecedented levels. They were tired of each other and of my proposed solutions to their problems.
We’re in a different place this year. They still argue, of course. They aren’t robots. But the bickering is tolerable, understandable even, considering their age difference and varying interests and inclination to grow weary of being around the same person for long stretches while trapped indoors because we’re enduring the hottest summer of their lives.
Plus, our summer list has some unfulfilled wishes. We haven’t slurped a snow cone from Frisco’s legendary Snow Cone Lady. We haven’t walked through the ocean tunnel at the new Sea Life Aquarium in Grapevine. We have four more chapters until we reach the end of Anne of Green Gables; then we hope to watch one of the related miniseries.
All three of us are avoiding giant back-to-school displays in stores. We’re clinging to later-than-usual bedtimes and lazy mornings and impromptu adventures.
In years past, I’ve planned summer vacation for June. We’re eager to get out of town and out of our routines. But that left us homebound for the hottest, longest days of the season.
And while we had recent memories to reminisce over, we didn’t have a getaway to look forward to.
So I turned the calendar upside down. Our big vacation, to a land where water falls from the sky in August and temperatures rarely climb out of the 70s, ends just before school starts.
(Check back with me in 25 days, after I’ve been snapped out of denial and I’ve rushed around to get ready for school, to see if this was really a bright idea.)
I realize not everyone shares my reluctance for summer to end.
Before June was even over I made small talk with a mom in the grocery store. She was herding three young children through the aisles.
“It’s time for school to start again,” she lamented, unable to suppress her whine as she re-shelved items pulled down by busy little hands.
Most of the area’s day camps and vacation Bible school programs and library magic shows have closed shop, giving parents fewer options for inexpensive or free entertainment.
Outdoor swimming pools, baking for weeks in unrelenting heat, have lost their refreshing punch.
This week a brave mom brought five children to the neighborhood pool — three of her own, two friends. The preteen girls didn’t agree with mom over placement of chairs. They couldn’t suppress their attitude.
“When does school start again?” the mom, too worn out for a fight, asked.
Twenty-five days. Use them wisely.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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