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?
There comes a time in the life of your kids, when they just have to spread their wings and fly for a while. Where they go often varies, but the reason is usually the same. They want to be more independent. Some kids, like my dad, Allen Spencer and his brother, Bill Spencer, were intent on making a living. They had decided to follow the harvest and make some good money for the family. They planned to, and did return home in time to help their mom, Anna Spencer with the haying. The main reason the boys set out at eighteen and sixteen was to make extra money, but I have to think they were also feeling like they wanted and needed a little road trip too. They were of an age to be able to go safely, and their mom was agreeable, so off they went. I can’t say that they sewed any wild oats, but it was an opportunity to go the places they wanted to go, and do the things they wanted to do. And it was an opportunity for them to really spread their wings and prove to themselves that they were grown up.
That whole “I’m grown up” idea hasn’t changed much, and it hasn’t gone away. This year I had two of my grandchildren graduate from high school. They have both started to venture out of the safe haven of home now. Chris Petersen went to watch his brother, Josh Petersen’s track meet toward the end of last year, and Shai Royce and her brother, Caalab Royce drove to Denver to visit their grandparents, and have a little fun too. They all had a good time on their road trips, and I’m sure that they felt a little more grown up. The funny thing about teenagers is that after they take a couple of those road trips, or even one, they realize that it’s not such a big deal after all.
After, Chris moved to Sheridan to go to college, that drive home quickly became kind of long and boring. Yes, he comes home, because he misses family, and we miss him, but he’s not so impressed with driving down and back alone…especially going back. I suppose that could be because he knows it will be a while before he sees his family again. When you are going somewhere to have fun and then you’ll be back the next week to stay. It just feels different than when you know it may be months before you see your family again. That feels lonely.
For me…well I’m still trying to get used to the fact that they all have a driver’s license and their own cars…and now they expect me to be ok with letting those little babies go on a trip alone!! Are they crazy? Or, maybe I just sound too much like their mom’s. There will be many more road trips to come in the future, so I might just as well get used to it. I just don’t think that’s possible. The other day, when my granddaughter, Shai called her mom, Amy, who works with me, and asked what there was to do in Deadwood, I started thinking…she doesn’t need to go to Deadwood at her age. Let her go to Thermopolis, if she wants to go somewhere. Shai was only asking the question for a guest at the hotel she works at. Wow…I really need to stress less!!