Well, it's over. Summer vacation officially ended last night (a little too late, despite the "strict" rule that late nights ended Saturday night), after one more cuddle, one more X-Men episode, one more pizza slice and giant homemade brownie.
The end of summer vacation sucks, and not just because it's over. It's because it's almost over, and all of a sudden you realize all the things you haven't done, like some weirdo who goes to San Diego and only realizes on the last day of the trip that you forgot to visit the zoo, Sea World, and the beach. We didn't go to the pool. We didn't take as many hikes as I wanted before weather got too ghastly to walk even in the evening. We missed thunderstorms, stuck inside as I worked and he stared at a video game. We didn't even take our camping trip (as luck would have it, my husband's first streak of multiple days off is - you guessed it - this week, while school's in session).
So at some point I decided, enough with multitasking my son. I dropped everything else for a while. The second half of summer break, as brief as it was, was packed. We went to the arboretum and the preserve and the mountains (a few different ones). We went to a pond and spent all day staring at damselflies. We actually got into an argument about what species a particular breeding pair might be. (We were both wrong, but I think we were mostly tickled that someone else in this world wants to even have that argument.) We went to the wave pool, where he braved the water slide for the first time and we rode the waves until I was motion sick. We went ice skating, which is one of the first things I've seen him really suck at -- and persevere anyway. He improved. We went again yesterday. I got blisters from ill-fitting skates, but it was worth it.
We went to the lake and the park and the water park. We began to know when the light's going to be right -- just exactly perfect -- even if we're cooped up inside, just from how the backyard wall glows an intense rosy orange. We used those times to dash outside and sit on the swing set in the fiery light. He'd swing against the sunset while I weighed the wobbling apparatus down with my fat ass. How is it I never realized how cool it is to own our own swing set?
He came with me to my photography gallery opening and was genuinely thrilled. We did sparklers in the backyard and stood in the dusty night wind to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. I watched his independence grow. He can walk alone to send the mail, which here is a few blocks away. (Our upstairs window is pretty good for spying, but he doesn't need to know that.) A herd of sweaty, noisy kids stampeded through our house more than a few times. He read a few books, and I'm not talking the little kid ones. I steal his books when he's not looking, these days. He's getting kind of cool now. He made up a smart-ass, gloomy "School's Back From Summer" riff on "School's Out." I didn't even know he knew that song.
Still, vacation can't last forever. Nothing gets done. It was getting ridiculous, how little time and space I had. My son and I would be going all day, until he went to bed, at which point my husband got up. We were together until he went to work, I went to bed (very late), slept far too few hours, and I was up at the crack of dawn (even in summer), with the kid ready to go again. Rinse, lather, repeat, crash from exhaustion.
Now, he's back in school. I can think. I can have a few minutes to myself. No more herd of sweaty kids eating all my food and throwing my electronics at one another. No more demands to go to ten activities a day, and can we stop at the park on the way home and also can my friend come over and if he does can he stay the night and can we have pizza and when are you going to bake the cookies, anyway? No more sunsets at the park, at least until the weekend. I can breathe a bit. Time to get stuff done. Yes. Finally.
Does it have to be over already?