Friday, June 10, 2005

The first day of summer

Yes, I know it's not officially the first day of summer. That's the summer solstice and doesn't arrive for about another week and a half. But for me, and for many families, today is the FIRST day of summer in every other way because it's the LASTday of school. You might think it's strange that a family who homeschools would take so much notice of a school event, but it does affect us. Suddenly the neighborhood changes, no one ELSE is getting up on a school routine. The crossing guard in front of our house (we live on a street that houses the junior high just a half block to the left of us, and 9/10ths of a mile to the right, the high school campus, plus a bussing route for an elementary) disappears. Hoards of noisy, restless children stop parading past our house twice a day. The car traffic and noise is cut in half. The buzzers that tell the angst ridden, hormonally poisoned pre-adolescents at the junior high when to get up from their seats, gather their packpacks, and change classes, stop drifting over the trees into our yard to be replaced by the crowd cheers of summer softball on the back campus playing fields. On a more personal level, William's friends show up at the door earlier in the day and stay later into the night. Everything suddenly seems less frantic. Maybe it isn't, really, but childhood memories of summer as an oasis are hard to erase even if they were probably always a fantasy.

This year I'm particularly excited about it because my niece Kim (who has been living with us) has had a really rigorous school routine through a charter school. We like the resource teacher we've been assigned to work with, but the school structure and required work is a boring, disconnected, inane, white water river of worksheets. More so in Kim's case, because in six weeks she's been trying to catch up and complete an entire high school semester's worth of work and credits. This is the reason we're even with the school program at all, so I can't complain, it's doing what we asked it to do, but it's been at the expense of a lot of time I would have found much better use for, both for myself and my neice.

But, all's well that ends well. And today is the deadline for turning in ALL her assignments. (except her driver's training test, which will happen next week) Today is THE END. She's been working pretty much nonstop the last two days to complete everything. Last night I went to bed while the light was on late into the night under her door. At three o'clock this afternoon we'll turn in a ream of papers and walk out the door free, women... er, one woman and one teenager.

William too, even though our approach to school is mostly not to have it, will consider this the last day of school for the year. He'll no longer be bound to the small amount of routine we hold him to (loosely and with frequent lapses in routine and rules). He's still got some self driven commitments, but those aren't the steady stream of sharpening pencils and study time that Kim has had to endure recently. His friends will be released from their public school captivity.

As for me, I gave myself my own deadline. It's somewhat vaguely assigned to either today or next Friday (which I thought earlier was the last day of school). I told myself when school ended, I was going to start "My New Life" (imagine trumpets sounding at the announcement), whether I was ready or not, whether my house was in order, decluttered, clean, dirty, or being invaded by aliens or not, whether I had my new lap top or not, whether my family encouraged me or grabbed my heals and whined and grumbled with their usual finesse. I would stop waiting for "everything to be in order" and officially hang up my full time mom apron. (Ironically, I've taken to wearing aprons again, which is something I did pre-motherhood). I'm certainly not going to stop being a mom, but I am going to start being a writer AND a mom. Or maybe a writer and an ar-teeest and a mom.

I've been pleased with myself so far. I forced myself to find time to go to a writer's group last week. I forced myself to go to a creative workshop this week. I've been THINKING of myself as deserved of this change. (ACK! I just realized I also FORGOT TO GO to my writer's group meeting last night!!!! Motherhood is an insidious Gollum-like creature despite it's fuzzy love image.) The only reason I haven't ordered my laptop is because I'm waiting for a chance to get to the big city (sometime next week I'm hoping) and try out a few keyboards for size first.

It doesn't feel like the last day of school yet. The kids haven't even risen from their quilt covered tombs yet today . (I'd have said beds but they have a tendency t o stay up all night and retire at dawn.) My head is filled with concerns that somehow everything won't be finished in time, something will be forgotten, missed, need to be redone. I'll feel a lot better after our school meeting this afternoon, after the sun sets on the day and no bureaucracy hounds have been heard baying in the distance. Then I'll feel like we've managed to leave the school year behind.

And then, ready or not summer, here we come.


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