Or is it? The date certainly shows it ought to be but today it is raining and gloomy. Still, the presence of the children in the house all day long tells me it must be summer! Don’t you feel the panic of parents trying to find summer programs, workshops and activities to keep their little ones busy? All but me.
This is the first time in a long time the kids are home and with me during the summer. Normally they are off in another part of the world with their father, but their health issues brought us to this place of rest. This year, it is all about rest and building up of strength. Where some parents are looking for more and more activities to keep their children engaged, I am happy that they have time to just breathe out, to spend days reading, lounging around, rediscovering old toys and making them new, waking up when they want to, biking around the village–just having a few months of free and easy time.
They still have their music and kung fu lessons, which they had all of last year anyway, and I believe some mornings of summer catching-up classes for my 13-year-old after Holy Week, but other than that their days are free. We’ve had two day trips to the beach as we are fortunate to live close enough so that the trips don’t leave us exhausted.
Sometimes I think the world has turned too much; we foist too many activities on our children and can’t bear to look at the long hours of the day when they might be home doing nothing (daunting and sometimes overwhelming, I admit). Yet, I find that it’s good for kids to have long stretches of down time as well. If you haven’t already noticed, the world has become fast and demanding and there is so much stimulus anyway that we didn’t have growing-up. The minute you leave your home and enter a main road, stuff just hurls at you, from the traffic to the billboards, to the noise and a general frenetic buzz that just grows louder by the day. There’s electromagnetic radiation from computers and cell phones in amounts we have never known. It is a new world and it is not always comforting.
I want my children to appreciate peace and calm, to be able to create this space for themselves and others when they are grown and I am long gone. They need quiet to create and hear their own thoughts, to feel the murmurs of their heart, to appreciate the quiet songs the birds and the rustling of the leaves make, to be able to truly listen to what another human being is saying and to be able to make sense of who they are and where they stand at all times. As the world evolves, these are the gifts that will sustain and nourish them, these are the inner spaces from which they can gather themselves time and time again.
This is a summer of the new world and I feel it in the weather’s rebellion. We would do well to gather our own inner forces as well for the changes yet to come.