School’s (Almost) Out For Summer!

Ahhh…summertime! It’s what kids live for…freedom, sunshine, swimming pools, beaches, friends, vacation!

And it’s what I live for too. Well, I don’t actually live for it, but I look forward to it every year. I start counting down the days till summer as soon as spring break is over. Between sports practices and camps for my daughter, her upcoming trip to Iceland, and a couple of vacations, summer is all planned…and I can hardly wait to get started!

This year, my daughter’s last day of school…last day of middle school, in fact…is June 1, and frankly, it can’t get here fast enough. Bring…it…on!

The first order of business at my house this summer is Driver’s Education! Woohoo! For the whole first week of summer, my daughter will be in Driver’s Ed with several of her closest friends. At her school, it’s not like it was when I was in school. Back in the day, our school owned a Driver’s Ed car, and there were designated teachers who actually taught the Driver’s Ed course. In tenth grade, each student took one semester of Driver’s Ed and one semester of Health. We even had driving simulators. I don’t even know if they exist anymore. Nothing about those simulators seemed realistic, but they were fun. I’m sure I ran over quite a few people and street signs on my simulated drives. In fact, I may or may not have done it intentionally (like that person stepping out of the truck on the simulator below!).

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Now, my daughter’s school doesn’t even have a Driver’s Ed class or a car. They take Driver’s Ed through private companies on their own time. If lots of her friends weren’t going to be in that same Driver’s Ed class this summer, my daughter would not want to go. There are a couple of different motivators at work here, though: friends in the class and Bojangle’s for lunch every day. In our world, Bojangle’s is motivation for just about anything.

It’s difficult to believe it’s time for her to take Driver’s Ed. I was talking with my friend, Kristi, who lives in Florida, yesterday, and she was telling me her 16-yr-old son just got his driver’s license. Her older daughter is in college, so her son is the only one at home. But since getting his license, he’s never home, she said. Her house seems too quiet. She isn’t complaining, because as she pointed out, it’s part of growing up.

And she’s right. Our children gradually become more independent throughout their lives. Things change.

As our daughter gets older, I’m finding summer is different every year. For most of her life, when she wanted to go to the pool, I had to be there too. Till she was about nine, she didn’t care where I sat at the pool. From nine to twelve, I had to be there, but she did not want to see me. And then, at twelve, she could start going by herself to meet friends, which worked out perfectly for me. While I enjoy going to the pool, I don’t need to go every day. In fact, at fourteen, she would prefer I wear a hoodie pulled low over my face while I drive slowly past the entrance and let her jump out of the car, so my face isn’t seen by any teenager in the area. I don’t mind. I remember 14.

When I was a little girl, Mother took us to the pool almost every morning. When we lived on the Alabama Gulf Coast, we would swim for a couple of hours before going home for a quick lunch, and then we would go crabbing in the afternoon. We’d hang our nets off the pier and check them every 20 to 30 minutes to see if there were any crabs in them.

Of course, in the preteen years, just like my daughter, I became more independent. I really do remember 14. A lot of our summers were filled up with baseball. My brother, who is 17 months younger, played baseball, and in summers, there were all star games all over the state. Once we became old enough to drive, there was a lot of time spent hanging with friends whenever we wanted. The pool, though, was always a mainstay in summer. I remember studying for my final exams my senior year of high school at the pool. My friend, Jill, and I took our books to the pool and sat out by the pool, studying.

Now, as my daughter gets ready to enter high school, she’s studying for a couple of exams in middle school.

Soon school will be out, and she will be able to enjoy the “lazy days of summer,” though they are anything but lazy. Between sports and trips, she will have a little downtime, and maybe then, she’ll get to enjoy some of the same things we used to enjoy in summer. I, certainly, plan to enjoy summer as much as I can doing some of my favorite things…

Here are my personal favorites:

PRETTY COCKTAILS Enjoy a Hungry Girl summer cocktail by the pool; for info, click here. Spritzers are good in the sun too. My favorite spritzer recipe (by Martha Stewart) is here.

LIGHTNING BUGS Also known as fireflies, lightning bugs are everywhere in summer.. When I was a little girl, we would catch them and put them in jars so we could watch them illuminate. Of course, it’s a catch and release program. Need some Mason jars? You can purchase them here. ***Do not run or walk with the jars. Put them on the ground or on a table. After catching your lightning bugs, walk over and put them in the jars.***

WATER ACTIVITIES Thank God for the “cement pond” in summertime! (That’s a Beverly Hillbillies reference.) Swimming pools…movie stars. Ok, so maybe not movie stars, but the pool is a great thing.  Of course, everybody loves the beach in summer, and in the Charlotte area, we are lucky to have two local lakes, Lake Norman and Lake Wiley.  As for water activities, I love stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking at the US National Whitewater Center. For info, click here.

VACATION Just get away! There’s nothing better than seeing new places! A couple of big trips and some little trip s….maybe even the Virginia Creeper Trail, a bike trail in Virginia. I’ve done it a few times, and every time is different. For info, click here.

Of course, the main thing I love about summer is getting to spend some extra time with my daughter. Time flies, and the way I see it, since she is starting high school next year, “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” we have a few more summers before she goes off to college. I want to make the most of this precious time. Sure, I try to cram a lot of activity into a couple months’ time, but we’re making memories. I’ve said before…people can steal stuff from you, but they can’t steal memories.

Happy Summer!

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