So today is the last day of school. The lure of long, hot summer days that has been tormenting the kids for weeks has finally arrived. The backpacks came home full of supplies. The kids came home full of anticipation. I find that as I watch my kids grow up I get to see flashes of my childhood again, with a new perspective. Summer holidays is another one of those moments. I see in them the unending possibility that is summer vacation and remember those long days romping freely around the acreage and the lake. As a parent I wonder about what it is I need to do to make the magic happen.
Much to my mother’s chagrin, I spent most of my summers as a kid at Hastings Lake. A family cabin originally purchased by my grandfather that first my dad and now my brother and I have done extensive work at improving. When I was a kid, we had basically a one room cottage with some dividers for bedrooms. The water came from a blue water jug on the counter and the toilet flushed into a bucket that we had to empty on a regular basis. But there was unending adventure on the water and more importantly in the forests surrounding our property. There, we were free to bolt from the kitchen at the break of day and return when we were hungry. We built ridiculously dangerous forts and obstacle courses from found material and invented any number of worlds to amuse ourselves. We did things on and around ancient play structures that would give most parents and certainly any safety officers nightmares. But we were free and we were happy. I shudder at the thought of my children doing this, but I know that I need to find the cojones to let them find their own boundaries like I did.
When I wasn’t at the cabin, I was at our 3+ acres with very little in the way of neighbourhood kids to keep me entertained. While I think being there was far less fun, it was certainly not without its adventures. There I learned how to operate a tractor. How to break a tractor. How to fix a tractor. How to grow my own food (aka how to find the sweet little baby corn for an afternoon snack). The responsibility of a job that just kept having to be done (i.e. mowing 3 acres of lawn). The pride of ownership that building and maintaining your own house can bring. I wonder at the ability of parents to provide that environment today with such a prevalence of virtual worlds. But I know the importance of the strain between responsibility and leisure is an important lesson to learn. As we move into summer and these thoughts of my childhood summers surface, there is a certain nostalgia since I know that the acreage is about to be sold. In a way, we are approaching the last day for that part of my life too, but life today is proof positive that change is not a bad thing.
In many ways, our culture fears the end of things. There is a sense that an end is scary, largely I think because of the unknown that follows. But as any kid will tell you, the end of the school year is nothing but endless possibilities wrapped in parties and play time. I think we all should look at changes a little more like this and be excited by the endless possibility. As the boys from Daft Punk say:
Like the legend of the Phoenix All ends with beginnings What keeps the planets spinning The force from the beginningLet’s embrace the last day, trust in the force from the beginning and move bravely into the future knowing we’re likely to Get Lucky.