It’s inevitable…the end of summer, turns into the first day of school. All the kids are torn between being bored from too much free time, and the dread of getting back into the grind of studying and homework. This year finds my family with just one public school student left. Our grandson, Josh Petersen is a senior in high school this year, so this is our last year with the public school system…until the great grandbabies start coming anyway. I am finding that hard to believe.
Of course, once the kids get going, most of them enjoy school. Believe it or not, humans tend to want to be productive and for kids that does mean school. By the end of the year, they are ready for summer break, but by summer’s end, they are ready to get back into the swing of things again. They miss the organized sports, friends they don’t see except at school, getting out of the house or daycare, and in reality, most of them actually enjoy learning. I don’t think any of us really want to go through life with no mental stimulation, and that is exactly what school does for the kids, whether they particularly like it or not.
Then, of course, most kids usually get a few new articles of clothing to start out the new school year. For some, it is a matter of necessity, because of course, they have grown so much since last year, and for others, it is a necessity, because after all, you have to have at least one new outfit to start the year…right? And those new clothes and school supplies tend to take the sting of summer’s end out of the picture, a little bit anyway. I always thought it was fun to have new school supplies, even if the newness wore off pretty quickly.
And so, as the kids come home after school, they are filled with stories of their day to pass on to their parents, and even a little bit of excitement just to be back…until they start to think about the homework they have to get done before school tomorrow. And then, there is the lack of outdoor playtime, because they have to get ready for the next day. That might be a bit of a let down, but that is what getting back into the swing of things is all about.
Kids have gone to summer school for a number of reasons over the years. Some go because they got behind in school, or need extra help to keep up with their class. Some go to get ahead on their studies for an early graduation. Some go as college students, so they can graduate in a timely manner. I never went to summer school for any of those reasons. In fact I really never went to summer school at all, but I can’t say that I never spent time at the school in the summer…because I did. For me, as for most kids, there was no desire to step one foot inside a school building in the summertime, but the playground…now that was a different thing.
As I was going for a walk last night, I heard voices coming from the playground. I looked and saw a number of kids playing on the swings, the monkey bars, and the slides. I’m pretty sure that those kids, like my sisters and me, had swings and such at home, but somehow it’s just different at the school…especially when you don’t have classes, but rather just an afternoon of recess time, minus the crowds that always seemed to be around the playground equipment during the school year recess period. Half the time…unless you were the fastest runner, or were in a classroom right near the swings, or you were watching the clock so you could bolt out the door at the sound of the recess bell, you ended up being one of those kids standing in line hoping someone would get tired of the swings so that you could have a turn before it was time to head back inside. Most often, the child on the swing was taught by their parents, just like I taught my girls, “If you had it first, you don’t have to give it up.” It was a great rule, unless you were the one waiting for a turn on the swings.
Summertime on the playground was a different thing, altogether. Either we were the only kids who thought to go play at the school, or everyone came at different times, or kids were at daycare, or they were out of town, but there was never the kind of crowds you saw on a school day, and you could play on the equipment to your heart’s content. It was a great time to be a kid. As I walked on, the laughter of the kids on the playground faded, but in my thoughts, I continued to reminisce about the good old days of complete summertime freedom. Those days are long gone now, of course, and daily adult duties have replaced them. Gone are the summer days when you didn’t have a job, you could sleep in, and asking Mom if you could go to the school was usually met with an affirmative answer, because after all, you were driving her nuts at home anyway. A couple of hours of peace and quiet were a welcome change from the constant whining school kids make in the summertime, about being bored. Oh, to be bored again…wouldn’t it be grand?