We went away for an extended Memorial Day weekend, and spent the end of last week playing clean up and catch up. I had my end of Bible Study party at our house on Friday, and there was a lot of clutter to clear out before that could happen.
So, today was the day to get into full fledged summer activity mode. Nineteen years of life as a student and ten others as a teacher have trained me to still think in terms of a school calendar year, even though I stay home and my kids are not yet in school full time. So those last few days of a school year and the first few days of freedom from a schedule are particularly thrilling to me -- like that first day you can drive along with the windows down and the radio cranked up. I'm actually glad I forgot that the first session of swim lessons started at our pool today, because I'm kind of glad that we'll have some flexibility about what we want to do with our days now, rather than having to be at the pool at 11AM for the next two weeks.
Today we went to the Nature Center and it was just about the perfect day you could dream up to start your summer. Sunny, but not too hot: a puffy paint cloud in a blue sky kind of day. We took a little hike with good friends, feeding the turtles and fish and stopping to use magnifying glasses to look at daddy long legs (one with only four legs!) and red ants along the way. N. pulled off every leaf she could reach from her stroller (no poison ivy, I'm pretty sure). We ended up with a up close encounter with a corn snake in the visitor center and a snack of Jello Jigglers before we headed to the library to sign up for the summer reading club.
It was delightful to watch O. with his good friend from his preschool class, in what must have seemed like a reunion to the two of them after not seeing each other for nearly two weeks.
"Look! A clue!" he shouted looking up in to the hole in a dead tree.
"Mom, don't you think this is just the right spot for tadpoles, and that mud over there is the place for their dad to be?"
When I was teaching, one of the saddest parts of my job was working against an attitude of apathy. Trying to get my high school students (sophomores mostly) passionate about something, anything even if it wasn't a book, seemed at times nearly impossible. I determined at some point that really it wasn't really necessary for students to enter my classroom with too many skills. Teaching them to read faster or more carefully, or write more smoothly was something I could work on. What I couldn't teach, and what I really hoped they still had a glimmer leftover from childhood, was a sense of curiosity.
I see glimpses of the teenager my son will someday be in his proclamations of "That's not fair!" and "Why don't I ever get what I want?" and "This is gross!" and even, horror of horrors, "This is boring!" However, the enthusiasm my son can still show for the discoveries of a day fills me with optimism and hope that I'm doing something right as a parent.