When my kids were younger--elementary school age or smaller--the summer was endless. Both a good thing and a challenging thing at times. (That's from their perspective and from mine.) At this age there was a lot of planning, managing and work that went into creating the "relaxing" summer we loved so much. And on their end, they ALWAYS wanted more autonomy than I could give them or more entertaining than I could tolerate, especially when I wanted to write. But with all this in mind, by the time September rolled around, even with all the super fun we had, I was thrilled to send them back to school. I craved the structure and the personal space and they needed the mental stimulation and the socialization.
And then there was the period where I had two tweens and one little one at home. This was an idyllic age for loving summer. The kids were pretty darn independent, but they still were enthusiastic about all the things I'd planned for them to do. A few camps, days by the pool, a couple road trips, get-togethers with friends and a family vacation. And in between, they were beginning to think it was cool to ignore me a little bit. And the little guy, always dying to keep up with the older boys, was almost as independent as they were. It was the first summers where I was getting a decent amount of writing done. Life felt pretty balanced.
But now we're at the stage where we have one tween and two teens and the whole dynamic is being upended again. The little guy is old enough for sleep away camp and he's all about immersing himself in the program. It's quite hilarious that once he's at camp, this kid who never stops talking at home, can only manage to send short texts that look like...Hi Great gtg Bye. For the middle son, I've become a secretary/chauffeur. It's the summer before high school and he's a social beast. It's pool parties, sleepovers, and other random stuff. And these outings are the kind where you pick them up and drop them off which can be a little nervous making, but most of the time is fabulous. He's trying on his age appropriate independence and we're both making it work. And the oldest has reached that point where he's a hair's breath away from driving and he's being more independent than ever. But in an interesting twist, he now has a job and I'm in the unique position of mostly being the summer "good guy." I'm taking him on vacation and his employer is the one who's making him do stuff. But just so he doesn't get out of practice with me being the meanie, he's learned how to do his own laundry and has an SAT tutor.
Looking back, I'm realizing that summer has become a measuring stick illustrating how the boys are changing over time. And this glimpse of them growing up makes me speculate about how I'll love my summers down the line when they are all busier and more independent. I suspect I'll be missing some of those moments when I was their whole world and summer lovin' was all about them loving me and wanting me to do everything with them. I may never see those days again until they have their own children. But I also think the moments we will get together will be incredible, something unique and wonderful in it's own way. Every year these boys become these interesting and complex people I'm even more fascinated by than I was when I first held them in my arms. Maybe summer lovin' isn't meant to stay the same. Because if you stayed in one spot, you'd miss all the other wonders along the way. Maybe summer lovin' is like taking in the sunsets. Everyone is different--but they are all worth watching.
What was the favorite age of your kids for loving summer? And what age drove you nuts? If you could go back and relive one moment what would it be? And what to do you look forward to the most as things change?