First Person

“My goodness how the time has flown. How did it get so late so soon?”

—Dr. Seuss

Somehow, amid the deafening crescendo of the cicadas, the summer is behind us. Personally, I’m with the good Doctor on this one. Where did the time go?

Time is a fickle beast. Seems it either yawns before us until anticipation sucks us dry or streaks like a cheetah, a blur before our eyes.

Summer is the rare combination of both of these. In June summer’s hours seem endless and full of promise and August leaves us yearning for even just one more day.

Our summer was a contradiction as well. We went into it with few plans and more unscheduled days than we ever had previously. Maybe it was a college drop-off looming that made me want a simple, uncluttered break. Whatever the motivation was, I got it.

We spent more time as a family this summer than we ever have. And we spent that time doing a whole lot of nothing. Sure, we had a family vacation and reunion, swim team, a smattering of camps and work schedules to contend with, but mostly we were just hanging out.

You know, like we used to when we were younger. I can remember waking up on summer mornings as a kid and having absolutely no idea where the day would take me—and not caring one bit.

That was our break this year, especially for my youngest. At 13, he was a camp veteran, having attended daily summer camp from the time he was 7. This year, we skipped it because of a location switch. Turned out it was a welcome switch in ideology as well.

Initially I worried he wouldn’t be stimulated, but I think that we sell our kids short. After 10 months of over-stimulation, eight weeks of nothing seems like an excellent way to recharge mentally and physically. I found that he was more willing to do summer work when it wasn’t crammed into a jam-packed schedule.

That’s not to say I let them be slugs. Two boys worked and had to manage the money and schedules that came with that responsibility. My youngest learned to cook basic meals, grocery shop using coupons and sale flyers, and saw first-hand what it takes to run this house.

When your kid tags along all the time, they get a very real idea of how much money you can drop every time you leave the house. He was amazed how it added up quickly.

All of these real-world experiences prompted conversations that never would have been possible in a normal summer. I got to know plenty about my children, and they gained an appreciation for each other as well.

And just in time.

When Aug. 15 arrived and we had to leave a part of our hearts seven hours away at school, we were a solid unit. No one was thinking about themselves; instead each one pondered the new shape of our family as a whole. Our summer had given us the moments we needed to get through this experience.

On the drive home from drop-off, amid the deafening thud of my heart, I was grateful for the gifts that time gave us this summer. Even if I’m still not sure where summer time went, the sum of its parts is enough for me.