Racing Against Father Time

I was late getting my weekend-at-a-glance guide out this week. I wish I could say that I was busy doing something fun or exciting but I was just helping my son complete the last of his summer book reports before we leave for one last summer getaway. To say that I'm a tad bit bitter with his school for inundating young children with online math drills, and book reports with projects would be an understatement. I understand that "summer slide" is very real but at my son's age, book reports and projects still require parental supervision, and frankly I want my summers off. Before my son could even attempt the project, I needed to clarify measurements for one of the projects with other moms in the class because it wasn't stated on the instruction sheet and well, the teacher is unavailable because she's enjoying her summer vacation with her family.

Maybe I'm wrong but I want my son to enjoy his break. I want him coming indoors dripping with sweat and feeling sticky with the residue of leftover popsicles on his hands and mouth. I want him laying in the grass, looking up at the clouds and imagining them to be spaceships, animals, and cartoon characters. I want him to challenge himself on those monkey bars, pedal faster on his bike, and make too sweet lemonade from scratch for all of us to enjoy on the porch during these oppressively humid days. In short, I want him to enjoy summer. I want summer break to be a true break from the routine of school. If you are a regular reader of my blog then you know we are an active, engaged family. We regularly go to museums, performances, sporting events, nature centers, etc. My kiddo participates in the library summer reading program every year...and enjoys it! During the summer, I want him to read the things he wants to read. I want him to select the books that make his imagination soar. As I mentioned to the other moms from school, the need to do book reports and projects over summer break will not guarantee perfect SAT scores in our children's futures, so why are we asking more of our children academically than our parents and schools asked of us growing up? Did we turn out so horribly?!

When I have such strong emotions, I always take a moment to sit with them and try to figure out why I feel the way I do. So, why am I so bitter about summer work? I am bitter because I know that with each passing summer it means I have one less to enjoy with my boy. He will only be this age once and with school, homework, sports, birthday parties, important family obligations and engagements, and now with the mountain of summer homework, it means I have even less time with him. If you think about it, we're lucky if we are given 18 summers with our children. That's it! While 18 summers might seem like a lot to parents with babies that are just months old, I can tell you that with every year that goes by, that time goes by faster and faster. If you're on Facebook, there's a feature called Timehop that will show you pictures that you posted on your page a year ago, 5 years ago, etc. I can't begin to tell you how many times parents will repost these pictures and say, "I can't believe it's already been "X" number of years!"

With the many pregnancy complications I had, I truly feel blessed to have my son. The love I have for him is visceral. I don't know how many summers we have left where he'll want to go to the zoo and ride the zoo train. I don't know how many summer's I have left where he'll come running to me after getting out of the ocean so that he can cuddle in a towel on my lap while I inhale the unmistakable smells of summer that emanate from children who have spent time outdoors. If only I could bottle that fragrance because in a blink of an eye his childlike smells will someday be covered up in aftershave, and deodorant. His summers will be spent with his friends and eventually with his own family. Until then, I will spend every summer day making memories with my baby boy as I race against Father Time. ~HZM

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