Get ready, here comes summer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The sleepy child on the couch was grumpy as I pulled her up to get dressed.

"No school?" she said, almost whining.

"You have to go to school today," I said.

"Stay home," she answered.

"Not yet. School isn't out for a little over a week," I said.

That is the conversation at my house almost every morning. I show my daughter how many days there are before the last day of school, and she bargains with me hoping to shorten my answer so "stay home" time starts sooner.

Now it is just one week until the official start of summer vacation, and the clock is ticking for every student in the county.

Remember that final week of school. I do.

If I search my memory, I can't come up with one single thing I learned during those last hours in class. The teacher might as well have written gibberish on the black board for all the attention I paid to her attempts to teach me something.

I sat looking out the wide windows at the shadows the sun made as it streaked through the pecan branches filled with new green leaves. Spelling words and reading lessons were about to become memories for three glorious months and I was ready for that time to begin.

Focusing on anything related to learning was almost impossible during that last week. My thoughts jumped ahead to sleeping late, swimming and no homework.

Summer days lay ahead, endless and filled with possibilities for adventure.

That first morning after the last day was pure bliss. No mother's voice calling out for you to hurry. No bells guiding you through the day, just sweet, sweet freedom.

Of course, once children arrived in my life, summer took on a little different twist. Daily adventures were a possibility, but they usually had something to do with discovering ways to stop kids from running in and out of the front door every five minutes.

Still, there was a lazier feel to the days even with children rushing through them at breakneck speed. Hot summer afternoons melted into warm, humid nights.

The hum of the air conditioner and the smell of honeysuckles were as welcomed by my children as they were by me when I was growing up.

I watched my kids discover the wonder of a sprinkler and resisted the urge to join them as they giggled and sprinted through the water. They played for hours at building some make-believe fortress or playhouse, depending on whether it was my daughter and her friends or my sons and their buddies.

One more week and it begins for my youngest daughter. She checks the calendar, hoping her no school question gets the answer she wants from me.

To tell the truth, I am almost as anxious as she is for the first morning following the last day when I can finally answer her question with "stay home," and we can both officially welcome the start of summer vacation.

- Nancy Blackmon is a

columnist for the Star-News.