Wow. Our summer vacation time is officially over. The boys head back to school TOMORROW.
Are we ready?
Well, sort of.
We’ve purchased all of our school supplies and packed them neatly in our backpacks; the bus schedules are posted next to our family calendar on the kitchen wall; and our last-minute dash to replace too-small sneakers was relatively successful.
(How did we manage to buy the only pair of shoes in the store that wasn’t on sale??)
We took care of our annual physicals at the beginning of the summer and our six-month dental appointments were this morning.
The boys’ best friends are coming over for an end-of-summer pool party this afternoon.
So, are we ready to go back to school?
We’ve had a crazy, beautiful, busy summer. We’ve crossed nine time zones, heading both east and west for our family vacations. We’ve visited new countries and old friends.
I don’t want it to end.
I’m not ready to give my children back to their peers and teachers and soccer coaches. I’m not ready to exchange our family time for school, homework, evening practices and weekend tournaments.
I want to stay on vacation, for at least a little while longer.
Maybe a year or so.
In my corporate days, we used to talk in hushed voices, about companies (not ours) that offered their employees a six-month sabbatical after a certain number of years of service.
I think there should be family sabbaticals.
Parents should be able to take time off from work and take their kids out of school for a full year... let’s say twice, anytime between kindergarten and twelfth grade.
We need time to show our children the world; time to teach them all the things that they will never learn in school; time to really get to know each other, outside the pre-defined roles of annoying child and homework cop.
Summer vacations are simply not enough, especially when parents are holding down two or more jobs and “vacation” means a rushed week at the beach, with Dad on his computer or Mom on the cell phone each day.
Conscious parenting does not necessarily call for interminable family vacations or world tours; but it does suggest a need for enough focused attention and quality interaction to actually build relationships with our children. This is too hard, for too many families today.
We need hours and days with our children, not just minutes. And they need us, more than we are willing to acknowledge most days.
I’m sure, once I get over my crankiness, I will once again find a way to make our daily routines as enriching and grace-filled as possible. And I know that I will have no trouble filling in my hours while the boys are at school.
But I’d still rather be at the beach.
For more of why I love family vacation time, please see French Connection: On Bonding with My Children While in Paris; American Kids in Paris; and The Importance of Family Vacations.
As always, my favorite book on conscious parenting is by Pam Leo and it is called, Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear.