Do you remember when summers felt endless?
As a child, summer days consisted of playing with friends, running through the sprinkler, and waiting for the ice cream truck–Mr. Softie.
So many choices!
I saved my allowance for the big ticket items: banana split served in a blue plastic boat. Second choice the rocket shipsicle. I remember creamsicles, candy necklaces, sundaes, pushups, and of course, the dipped soft serve cones.
Same driver each day. I thought his name was really Mr. Softie. When the familiar jingle floated through the air, the kids on the block swarmed to his truck always parked at my next door neighbor Lisa’s house.
What did summer mean to me back then?
Backyard pools. Flashlight tag. Bike-riding. Twirling my baton on the front lawn. Roller skating. Jump rope. Going to the playground. Kickball. Explore the nearby woods and creek.
Daydream. Read. Make up stories. Put on shows.
Boredom was not an affliction to be instantly remedied.
These endless days were punctuated with trips to my favorite amusement park, and other outings like the Detroit Zoo or a visit to my grandparents home on Lake Huron.
Some evenings, I’d attend my mother’s outdoor singing performances on Belle Isle.
My younger brothers and I lived in the moment of each unfolding hot day, oblivious of how many days had passed or were left before school started.
By the time I had my own children, summer vacation had become a time to keep kids busy: specialty camps, tutoring, organized sports, summer homework packets. Moms and Dads were out working. Our neighborhood was quieter during the week days.
Mr. Softie was replaced by a weekly visit (if lucky) from the Good Humor truck.
As a classroom teacher, I was fortunate to have the summer time to write and be with my kids. I tried to recreate some of the freedom and play that shaped my early years.
What I’m grateful for about the seasons of my childhood was how sheltered I was from the world’s woes. Sure I knew about bad stuff happening “out there”, but I still felt safe in my little corner of the map.
I never heard of a school shooting.
The blazing blue sky can’t coverup our collective grief.
But summer beckons and we move on, maybe a bit more slowly than the rest of the year.
The summers of adulthood are no longer endless. They begin with promise, then unfold rapidly until Back-to-School sales are upon us.
No matter how much I try to savor the long lush days, they pass all too quickly, each one more bittersweet.
My grown kids fondly remember their childhood summers, and how long they felt. That makes me happy.
Now I get to experience my grandchildren running freely in the sunshine…time standing still for a moment.
As a child, I never considered how many summers I had left to live.
Those three glorious months were always in-waiting, like a birthday, certain to arrive on time.