Friday, June 6, 2008

The Freedom of Summer

It's here!!!!

Summer vacation, that is.

I can't believe another year of school has raced by. I can't believe we've finished everything we set out to do back in late August. I can't believe I'm going to be teaching an eighth grader next year--didn't we just start kindergarten yesterday, sweetie?

My work may not be completely done--there are still tests to grade, end-0f-year report cards to write out (I only do a "real" report card at the end of each year, since the purpose of report cards is to inform parents of student progress and since as a teaching parent I'm pretty sure where my students are at any given moment during the year) and a few of those sorts of loose ends to tidy up; of course, the work of planning next year's school year will also begin, though knowing me I'll put off even thinking about it until about Bastille Day, which for some reason is when I realize that if I don't get those books ordered yesterday...

And rumor has it that the high-school age brother I'm allegedly tutoring will be sending me a few more things to grade over the summer (and if you're reading this, smile! I can't wait to get the first report; oh, by the way, you can simply begin a new paragraph at each section of the book report form I sent you). But even this is going to seem like leisure more than work, after the full school year that has just ended.

I know that I'm going to want to postmortem this past year, and I'll cheerfully admit that there's lots of room for improvement before we hit the books again next fall. While some subjects went well, others were a struggle; my husband observed one day when he was working from home that the children have gotten into the habit of using mom as a "crutch" instead of tackling something challenging on their own, once appropriate examples and instructions have been given. This is a fair observation, and something our homeschool family needs to work on.

But today, this evening, I'm just happy and pleased, glad that the books have been piled (not so neatly) back on the shelf, and that the warm embrace of summer can now sweep over us, instead of having to be held at bay while we finished up some math and grammar and history. I'm full of ideas about the things I hope to accomplish during the course of the next three months, and am especially looking forward to a return to my favorite pastime, fiction writing. There's a book that's been drifting around inside my head since sometime last year, and I can't wait to start tackling the story in earnest, to draw the characters slowly out of my brain and into an existence that's more tangible than their current reality inside my imagination.

There are so many other things to do, too! The girls are going to write their usual list of things they'd like to do this summer, and they're in the process of choosing their "Twelve Books of Summer," a family-created summer reading program which keeps them reading and earns them a reward when all the books have been read. Hatchick is eagerly planning her birthday, which is next week; she wants me to make a hat-shaped birthday cake, and is quite kind about the possibility that, given Mom's struggles with the decorative arts, the "hat" may be a bit unusual.

But the best part of summer has nothing to do with all the plans we're making, or the lists we're writing, or the fictional plots we're devising, or the little jobs of grading and so on that will come my way. The best part of summer isn't even about catching up on all those good books I've been meaning to read, or perusing the catalogs full of interesting curricula for next year.

And it's not the hot days or the shrieks of sprinkler-dashing swimsuit-clad children or the tinkle of ice cubes in tall frosty glasses or the light salad recipes bursting with raw vegetables and fresh fruits; it's not the chance to get caught up on chores or organizing tasks; it's not any one particular thing, at all. It's all of it, and none of it: it's the freedom that glitters like sun struck dew on an early summer day, or waves like a cooling breeze refreshing us with its restorative powers. For three short months there is room in each day just to live, just to be--and it's a freedom that, as a homeschooling mom, I look forward to as eagerly as my children do.


Margaret in Minnesota said...

Thank you, Red. You have captured everything I am feeling and more. You have said it so well, in fact, that I don't have to! Instead we can both sit back, relax, and enjoy some of this freedom that you speak of.

Happy Summer, friend.

molly said...

You deserve a wonderful summer...put your feet up and relax! Happy Summer!

Red Cardigan said...

Happy summer to both of you, too! God bless! :)