It’s the first day of summer break for my girls.
They are excited and also sad. Ellie, especially. She cries on the last day of school every year and this year was no different. She loved her teacher this year and can’t imagine not seeing her everyday.
I also cried on the last day of school, but it was for different reasons. Mainly: what am I going to do with them all summer?
But I’m over it already. And I’m excited too. No school for me. No school for them. Hot, sunny days and Chris starts a new work schedule that will allow him to spend the majority of the day with us as well.
It is going to be a good, good summer.
And now, my dear children, a letter about our summer on this, the first day of summer break:
I love you. I love this age, love this season. Harper, I love your sassy attitude and sense of humor that is waaay past your seven years of age. Ellie, I love your creative spirit and the way you can lead a room. We are going to have such a great summer together.
I promise to let you watch very little TV. You are creative and bright and full of energy–I don’t want the television to dull that. You will, instead, play outside. Get as dirty as you can. Get mud under your fingernails, in between your toes, and in your hair, if you please. I will scrub you clean each night, glad to wash the summer day off your little bodies.
Let’s jump on the trampoline for hours, make a slip-n-slide down the hill, and ride for miles on the country roads that surround our house. If it is sunny, we’ll go swimming. If it’s raining, we’ll head to the library for mountains of books and cozy couches.
No, you can’t play on the iPad. I don’t care if it’s labeled “educational,” it’s still not as good as reading that book, using your science kit to create experiments, or playing with friends. You can learn about other worlds, mix up gross concoctions and dare each other to drink them, and learn how to share, resolve conflict, and laugh with humans.
I’m going to try and be better about messes this summer. In the nine years of being a mom, no one has actually died because of a messy room or a living room filled with Legos. We’ll leave them for a few days to make sure we’re done with them this summer. We will, of course, clean up eventually though. I am still your mother, Mary Graham, hater of all mess and clutter. But I’m going to try to ignore a little more of it.
This summer (and this one is exciting for me…), you’re going to make your own breakfasts! Every day! I can’t wait. You can put the frozen waffles in the toaster or warm up the French toast sticks in the microwave just as well as I can so it’s you’re thing now. I’ll be here to make sure you eat protein and fruit, but I’ll do it from afar.
I promise, this year, we’re going to grow things in the dirt and we’re going to eat them with our loud, happy mouths. Yes, Aunt Penny next door has a better garden than we’ll ever have and she keeps us stocked with fresh produce all summer, but we’re joining in too. I think there is something so beautiful and frustrating and triumphant about growing your own food. It feels magical, and this summer, after the chaos and brokenness of last summer, I want magic so bad.
I’m already dreaming of lazy afternoons spent piled on the couch, a jumble of arms and legs, as we read books and eat snacks. Summer snacks like watermelon and popsicles and berries. We’ll sit until our legs fall asleep, and then we’ll stumble outside to sun ourselves on the back patio, books in tow.
Let’s get a hammock this summer. Let’s take naps there. Let’s turn it into a ride like my sister and I did when we were little, pushing it so high you almost flip over, but then just at the last moment, you rush back down to earth and safety, the wind in your hair and a smile in your eyes, on your mouth, and in your laugh.
When August rolls around, we’ll have our summer tans, our lighter hair, and a new spread of freckles on our cheeks and shoulders. We’ll be ready for school and routines and bedtimes again when it’s time to register for second and fourth grade. Second and fourth grade? How is that possible, little ones? I remember preschool and backpacks bigger than you. It’s too soon for this.
Summers are my favorite, they feel decadent and wild, but the start of a school year feels good too. Summers wouldn’t be as golden if it was always summer.
Last summer, I made a summer to-do list. But then everything crumbled and surviving took over. There wasn’t room for pool trips or park adventures or laughing, to be honest. I promise that this summer there won’t be a list of things we want to do, not that there’s anything wrong with it, but for us, right now, we need open days and open hearts and not a lot of expectations.
My girls, I can’t wait to spend my summer with you,