It’s coming to a close for the kids, summer vacation that is, and that always makes me sad for their sake. The freedom, fun and opportunities of summer are quickly dissipating. Yes, it’s different from the summers of the ’50s and ’60s when we spent countless hours playing marbles, looking for out-of-state automobile licenses, and playing sandlot baseball with that one black electric tape-wrapped ball, but the overall freedom thing is still fleetingly theirs until it isn’t. And soon it will be a distant memory, one of 18 distant summer memories before they are legally considered adults and have to be “grown-up.”
Jude got his permit and learned to drive a non-millennial-straight stick this summer while his soon to be 14-year-old sister learned about mascara called “Better than sex.” That name alone carries quite a few inferences that hopefully won’t make much sense for a 13+ year old with beautiful, long eyelashes.
Their younger sister, Laura, has had quite the education. Primarily, the thing she learns most frequently from her older siblings is what not to do if you want to stay under the parental radar. And, Pete, well Pete learned one of the most amazing boy things that anyone has ever learned this summer. He learned multiple ways to make stinker sounds. He can use only his lips, blow on his arm or into his hand, and, of course, he can make them the traditional way.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, their cousin Lucy has continued to fine-tune her wit and sarcasm skills while Zoey has perfected bracelet and ring making. She made me a pinky ring that would make Joe Pesci proud. Although the bead sizes are similar to human, adult molars, it’s made of lovely brown and white beads. When I try to write and wear that ring at the same time, I need a Turkey Vulture feather carved into a quill pen to reach the page.
All of the kids got to hang out at the beach or beaches this summer, and they spent so much time in swimming pools they could qualify as extras for the Aquaman movie. There were multiple trips to various ice cream shops and plenty of opportunities to watch fireworks in numerous backyards and sports venues. Plus, both sets of grandkids spent plenty of nights around assorted fire pits chasing lightning bugs and dodging bats.
Last night, however, was the beginning of the end as several of them prepared for cross country, volleyball and band camps. In fact, those school activities start so early now that August is becoming almost a write-off month. Last night, we bought what seemed to be hundreds of dollars of school supplies and we also donated money for bags of supplies that some kids won’t be able to afford. But the piece de resistance, the culmination of Pete’s summer occurred last night when we turned a Boscov’s furniture box into a cabin for him. (Believe me, I put a lot of time and effort into this project because there was a time around 2008 when the economy collapsed that I considered building one of these for myself to live in under a bridge somewhere.)
We cut out windows, secured doors, and he even insisted on having a skylight that allowed him to stick his head out like he might do when riding in a car with a moon roof. I used what was probably $10 worth of duct tape to stabilize, decorate and secure windows, doors and the weakened frame.
But a house is not a home until you add one happy kid, a half dozen of Yia Yia’s decorative couch pillows and a box of munchkins. Believe me when I tell you, it took me a full 40 minutes to convince him to vacate the box and hit the sack for the night, but it was all worth it. Happy Summer.
F. Nick Jacobs of Pittsburgh is a Principal with SunStone Management Resources and author of the blog healinghospitals.com.