I Don’t Want Summer To End

There are lots of moms out there who can hardly wait for school to start. Maybe they want their house to stay clean. Maybe they need to get more done. Maybe they’re tired of dealing with childcare. Maybe they want the routine.

I’m not one of those moms. I love summer, and I love having my child home.

We love our daughter’s school. She will be a sophomore in high school this year, and she has been there since transitional kindergarten (pre-k). We wouldn’t have kept her there if we didn’t love it.

But I’m not ready for school to start.

Aside from the fact that I’m really not ready (I haven’t purchased her books or any other supplies), I’m not emotionally ready.

I won’t be one of those moms making dancing videos in the front yard on the first day of school. I won’t be jumping for joy.I’m more likely to be making crying, sad videos, because I’m sad summer is over. I will be sad school is back in session.

School starts for our daughter on August 21st, but she started field hockey practice last week, so she can’t go on any more trips this summer. She loves field hockey, so it’s fine with her, but it makes me sad. I love looking for trips for us to take, and now I will have to plan them for weekends. Add in the athletics schedule and school event schedule we have to plan around once school starts, and there’s very little opportunity for us to go anywhere.

There are so many reasons I love summer. I like not having a routine! I like flying by the seat of my pants. I like the spontaneity of summer. Some would say that’s exactly why I’m not a CEO…because I can’t (won’t) make a long-range, detailed plan for my life. And they’re exactly right. That sounds absolutely terrible to me! I like to take opportunities as they arise. If a friend or family member calls me and says he/she has an extra ticket to something, I’m in! A last minute trip? Call me! You won a cruise but have to leave tomorrow and need someone to go with you? My passport’s ready! Drinks on your patio one evening with no notice? I’m there! In fact, I’ll ask my husband to drive me over, so I don’t have to drive home. And if you’re my neighbor, it’s even easier!

And that’s the kind of spontaneity I love about summer. I love the possibility of a last-minute trip. I love when our daughter asks me on a Wednesday afternoon if she can have a few friends sleep over. I love staying up late talking with her and sleeping in the next morning. I love having a cocktail on the patio with my husband in the evenings, watching planes pass over and looking for satellites after dark. I love that our daughter has no homework in summer…her time is her own. I love that she’s relaxed in summer, which makes us all more relaxed. I love spending time outdoors, even if it’s hot. I love gardening. I love that we don’t have to rush home after a dinner out so our daughter can finish homework. I love having her home during the day, even though she is usually on the go.

I just love summer. And when school starts back on August 21, all the joy of summer will be gone. All the spontaneity will be replaced by routines. The relaxing evenings will be replaced by homework (for her) and volunteer meetings (for me).

And then I remember that in three short years, she will be heading off to college. That will be a whole new level of dread. I will be happy and excited for her, but wow…life will change. She will go off to college and will likely never live under our roof on a permanent basis again. I will really dread the end of summer in 2022. Even though I know college is one of the very best times of life, and I will be excited for her to experience it, I will dread it for me.

For now, we have two more weeks before school starts back. I’m already watching Facebook for the videos of happy moms all over the country pushing their kids out the door on the first day of school. Not me. I’ll be the mom who looks down and out. I’ll be the mom who keeps reviewing the school calendar, double-checking for long weekends and days off. I’ll be sad. And on the last day of school in 2020 (May 29!), I’ll be more excited than the kids!

But there is a silver lining. The start of school means the start of football season!

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She’s Growing Up, But She’ll Always Be My Baby

My little girl isn’t so little anymore. In fact, she’s the age at which she would be mortified if she knew I’m writing this. But she doesn’t know. Ignorance is bliss.

Right now, she’s upstairs with a friend getting ready for her last middle school dance. She’s finishing up eighth grade. Her school has two middle school dances a year, one in the fall and one in spring.

It’s hard for me to believe this is her last middle school dance. Truly, it seems like just a few months ago she was excited about her first middle school dance…in sixth grade. Afterward, she and all her friends could hardly wait to tell me how many boys asked them to dance! But it has been two years. Wow. She’s not even excited about this one. These eighth graders have one foot in middle school and one foot in high school.

As part of their upcoming eighth grade moving up ceremony (graduation), the school had parents send in pictures of the kids from kindergarten. Since my daughter started at the school in transitional kindergarten when she was four, I used that picture instead. She looks so sweet and so unjaded.

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September 2008, age 4 (almost 5!)

She started transitional kindergarten about six weeks before her fifth birthday. I remember that first day of school like it was yesterday. I remember watching her get out of the car in carpool with her tote bag and walk up the sidewalk by herself. I remember trying not to cry.

Today, when I turned in the picture for them to use for the ceremony, I told the middle school administrative assistant how I had to convince my daughter to wear a bow in her hair on picture day in transitional kindergarten. My child was the little girl who at 18 months declared, “Ruffles are for babies.” She has always had very definite ideas, and she sticks to her guns. When she was two years old, her pediatrician declared her to be a “classic strong-willed child,” telling me, “it will drive you crazy, but it will serve her well.” But on picture day in TK, I was able to convince her to wear a bow in her hair. I told her she didn’t have to wear it all day…just till after pictures. I reminded her that one of her friends (the daughter of my friend, Leah) regularly wore bows as big as her head…we are in the south, after all. When I picked her up after school on picture day that year, she didn’t have the bow in her hair, but she assured me she wore it for the picture.

I look at that picture and remember that sweet little girl who thought her mommy was the best mommy on earth and her daddy was the best daddy on earth. She thought we knew everything and could do anything.

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December 2007, age 4

Now, at age 14, she knows we don’t know everything, and she knows we can’t do everything. She’s more jaded than she was at four, because she has more life experience. She sees the world isn’t the perfect place she thought it was then. She knows the agony of defeat. She knows what it feels like to get a less than stellar grade. She knows injuries can end a sports season. She knows some people don’t have places to live. She knows there is no Santa Claus. She knows more about brain surgery than she should, because she watched her daddy suffer through it. She knows what it’s like to lose a grandmother. She knows what cancer looks like, since she has watched my friend suffer with it. She knows everybody isn’t nice all the time. She knows some friendships aren’t forever.

But as much as that life experience has jaded her a little, it has also made her appreciate the great things about life. She knows she goes to a great school in a fun city, and she’s fortunate to live in the United States of America. While she hates the agony of defeat, she loves the thrill of victory, and she knows it takes hard work, a good attitude, and confidence. She knows what it feels like to make an A+ and how great it made her feel when her history teacher told her he was impressed with the essay she had worked hard on. She knows there is a spirit of Christmas. She knows her daddy survived brain surgery. She knows sometimes kindness comes from  unexpected places. She knows most people are nice, and sometimes, friends we thought were gone come back around.

She knows that while parents can be embarrassing, we love her unconditionally. She knows we want her to live a good life in her own way. She knows experiences are far more valuable than things. She knows people may be able to take things, but they can’t take memories. She knows if she isn’t feeling well, her daddy and I will try to make her feel better…physically or emotionally. She knows we support her, but sometimes she has to be her own advocate.

As she finishes up middle school and prepares for high school, we continue to be her biggest supporters. We continue to tell her we love her every single day. We cheer her on at sporting events. We listen to her. We spend time with her and her friends. We read over her essays before she turns them in. We show her the world is full of different cultures and special people. We become her audience when she needs to practice a presentation. When she doesn’t feel well, we wish we could fix it. We remind her God will take care of us.

Tonight I will drop her off at her last middle school dance. The eighth grade girls don’t seem excited about it, but they’ll be glad they went. Like I said, they have one foot in middle school and one foot in high school.

And just when I think she is spreading her wings and flying away too fast, she surprises me. Last night, my husband was out of town, so our daughter crawled up into bed with me to watch TV for a little while. She cuddled up next to me, wrapped her arms around me, and said, “You’re the best mom in the whole world.” She cuddled for little while, and she said it several times, reminding me of when she was four years old and thought I knew everything. While I make her hug me once a day, those impromptu moments are hard to beat.

Yes, I miss that little four-yr-old who didn’t want to wear hairbows, dresses, or tights with her dance leotard. I miss that little four-yr-old who was so sweet and innocent. I miss that four-yr-old who thought Mommy and Daddy were the greatest people ever. But I love the big person she is becoming. I love that she wants good things for people. I love that she is already talking about college but loves hanging out with me…sometimes. I love that she loves college football as much as I do…and knows way more about it than I do. I love that she has good friends. I love that she is athletic. I love that she loves rollercoasters. I love that she enjoys travel. I love that she becomes more independent every day. I love that she has an appreciation for music. I love that she discovered a passion for art this year in school. I love that she is compassionate. I love that she is outgoing. I love that we have real conversations. I love that she expresses her opinions. I love when I do something for her, and she says, “Thank you, Mama.” I love this 14-yr-old.

Every night when I go upstairs to kiss her goodnight and tell her to “go to sleep soon,” I sit on the loveseat in her room and have a quick chat with her to reconnect one more time. If anything’s bothering her, she will usually tell me then. If she’s upset about something, it can be a long conversation. But if all is well, after we talk a little while, I stand up and walk to the door, turning around to say, “Goodnight! I love you! You’re my favorite!”

And when I see her walk across the stage at the eighth grade moving up ceremony in two weeks, I will think of that little four-yr-old who made her mommy happy by keeping that bow in her hair till after pictures.

My mother used to say that her goal as a mother was to raise compassionate, independent people who contribute to society. That’s my goal too.

So far, so good.

She’ll always be my baby. She’s my favorite.

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After the FIRST Final Rose…in 1973

I turned down the FIRST final rose…with pee in my shoes.

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After the FIRST final rose. While I love sharing favorite things, I love sharing favorite stories too.  With another season of ABC’s The Bachelor in full swing, I’m reminded of a story from my childhood. I like telling stories. This story is about a bachelor, shoes, and pee.

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My first memories of  childhood are in Brewton, Alabama. I have memories of riding bikes and fishing in the neighborhood pond, and I have lots of memories of Mrs. Peavy’s Kindergarten. Back then, public schools did not offer kindergarten, so in small towns, you either went to a church kindergarten, an established kindergarten in someone’s private classroom, or you didn’t go. ***Info about all photos at bottom of page***

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Mrs. Peavy was all business. Her kindergarten, which I attended at age five for the 1972-73 school year, was in a big room in the back of her home. She meant for us to learn a lot, and we did.  She wasn’t warm and fuzzy, but she loved sharing information with us and exposing us to new things. Dramatic  performances were her forte, and she produced a kindergarten play and an elaborate graduation ceremony every year. I don’t think any of us thought, at the time, Mrs. Peavy loved us, though looking back, I’m sure she did. She wanted to provide us with the best early education possible, and she succeeded.

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Mrs. Peavy might not have been warm and fuzzy, but she had the best playground in town. With a child size gas station, pedal cars, a teeter totter, monkey bars, and a child size “house,” it was awesome. That is one thing everyone I’ve talked to seems to remember…the awesome playground. I still wonder what happened to the vintage playground equipment when the house was torn down. To see or purchase vintage pedal cars like the one pictured below, clickhere.

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As mentioned before, her forte was dramatic productions, and in 1973, she lined up a fantastic production for our kindergarten play, Ole King Cole Takes A Wife. I was cast as Little Bo Peep. I’m sure I was cast in this lovely role for my short stature (she is LITTLE Bo Peep, after all), and not my singing talent. I loved my little blue and white costume full-length dress, bonnet, and shepherd staff. My mother’s friend, Martha, found a big shepherd’s staff, and she and my mother wrapped it in pink ribbon, tying a big bow near the top. I remember going to her big, old house with the wraparound porch on Belleville Avenue and standing in her yellow, gingham kitchen while they worked. I had the best costume.

I know what you’re wondering…how do Little Bo Peep and Ole King Cole go together? Well, in this production, all the ladies/girls of Nursery Rhyme Land were competing to become Ole King Cole’s bride, like an early version of The Bachelor! The king’s courtiers would bring in each potential bride, one at a time. There was Old Mother Hubbard, the Widow Humpty Dumpty, Peter Pumpkin Eater’s Wife (ex-wife? I guess she escaped the pumpkin shell…played by my friend, Cindy Finlay Fleming)…you get the picture. As luck (the script) would have it, Little Bo Peep was the last one called to see the king.

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Over the course of the play, Little Bo Peep (played by me) was waiting in the wings, and after all that waiting, not surprisingly, I needed to go to the bathroom. Mrs. Peavy was standing beside me behind the curtain. I remember exactly where I was standing. I looked up at Mrs. Peavy and said, “I need to go to the bathroom.” She responded angrily, “Too late now! You should have gone earlier.” I knew I’d never make it through my appearance without squirming. My five year-old self thought, “Humph! No, it’s not too late.”

As I mentioned before, my costume was a full-length dress, so unbeknownst to Mrs. Peavy, I set my feet apart and peed…right there in the wings of the stage…standing up. It was a calculated decision. Wearing a dress meant there was no visible wet spot on my clothes (which I realized in advance), so no one in the audience would know.

My shoes were a little squishy as I walked out for my moment in the spotlight, but no one in the audience knew I had just peed standing up or that I had squishy shoes. I turned around quickly and looked at the puddle on the hardwood floor as I walked away. Mrs. Peavy saw it too…too late now! I glanced at her and could almost see the steam coming out her ears!

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After the king proposed marriage to me (Little Bo Peep), I sang my solo, “I’ll Never Give Up My Sheep For A King” (yes, I can still sing some of it). He wanted to marry Bo Peep, but he didn’t want her sheep to come to the castle.

No dice.

So technically, I guess I turned down the final rose way before The Bachelor was even an idea! And I did it with pee in my shoes.

My family moved from Brewton to Spanish Fort when I was in second grade, and a few more times after that, but when Facebook came around, I reached out to some of those old friends from Mrs. Peavy’s Kindergarten. I’m proud to say Ole King Cole is among my friends, as are Peter Pumpkin Eater’s Wife (ex-wife?) and the Widow Humpty Dumpty.

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When I was driving from the beach to my mother’s house last summer, I drove through Brewton. As I rounded a corner in downtown Brewton, I saw vendors in a park. There, among the vendors, was Ole King Cole.

I parked the car along the curb across the street from the vendors and walked across, and Ole King Cole and Little Bo Peep had a reunion right there, but this time I didn’t have pee in my shoes.

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So, yes, Mrs. Peavy and her kindergarten made quite an impression on me. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from Brewton and her kindergarten. She was a great teacher and a great piano teacher to many in the community, as well. I’m grateful Facebook has made it possible to reconnect with childhood friends. I’ll share more childhood stories another time.

In the meantime: Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, the other gold.

And yes, Ole King Cole is gold.

XOXO,

Kelly

P.S–Kindergarten Classmates: Does anyone else remember the dog’s tail falling off as he crossed the stage? I think the dog was played by a boy whose initials were K.I. I won’t put his full name, in case I’m wrong. Anyone?

***Photo info below***

Mrs. Ella Mae Peavy

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PHOTO INFO

*I am the little girl in the green and white dress in the headshot.

*The next two photos are from the graduation ceremony for my class in 1973.

*The black and white photo is from a 2012 story The Brewton Standard did on Mrs. Peavy. It is a photo showing the 1974 graduating class at their play, or as the article called it, their “operetta.”

*The cute little girl in the red outfit in the snow picture was Peter Pumpkin Eater’s Wife in the play. Her name is Cindy Finlay Fleming, and the picture is from the Great Southeastern Snow Storm of February 1973. It was the first time most of us had seen snow.

*The photo of two adults near the end is a photo of me and Keith Pugh, also known as Ole King Cole, when we reunited last summer.

*The photo of Mrs. Ella Mae Peavy is from an article in The Brewton Standard in 2012. Mrs. Peavy passed away in 1993.

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