It’s fitting we’re talking about summer plans this month because I’m the Chic that’s already been quoted as saying she wants to cancel summer. Just this past Friday I called the hubster at five minutes til 5pm and told him I was done. That I wanted off the ride. I begged him to please cancel summer before we got too far down the road to turn back. How sad is that, right? Especially given summer isn’t even truly here yet.
I’ve had a feeling about summer floating around in my brain for a few seasons now that I haven’t been able to fully understand. Given I’ve been uncertain about this feeling, I haven’t been able to put it into words and share it with anyone. Until Friday.
Let me explain—my leading role is that of mom to a fourteen year old. On top of being extremely gifted, said kiddo is equally regimented and sensitive. My kiddo is an Aspie, which is to say he’s on the Autism spectrum. Although his particular diagnosis is very mild, his Aspie is alive and well and never is it more on the scene than during the summer. My kiddo thrives on routine and only seems to have two modes: school and home. While I realize that’s true of every child, they have time at school and time at home, for most children the two bleed into and out of one another without issue. Homework, that is schoolwork that’s done at home when needed, is normal. School activities taking place outside of the school day are understandable. Not for my Aspie.
While I won’t speak for every Aspie out there, I’ll share with you that my kiddo doesn’t like to mix things. To my kiddo’s way of thinking, schoolwork stays at school, even if it means we rush to get done before the final bell and leave a few points on the table here and there. And we don’t like to attend school related functions after the school day. So here’s where the trouble meets the road…
When you’re little, summer equals down time. For most of the children I know, kindergarten through 8th grade comes with summers that are large in part free of scheduled work, or comprised of decided upon camps and activities that the children look forward to and might even consider special. And while there might be sports and a few extra outdoor related chores to tend to, there are still ample amounts of free time and summer feels like the much needed break from school that it is.
But what I’ve learned, what I think I’ve sensed nagging some remote corner of my brain these past couple of summers that I haven’t been able to put into words, is that summer changes when you start high school. And here we are—73 days away from the first day of high school and change has hit this house bringing with it a stark realization: there are no more summer’s off. No more summers that equal freedom and down time.
With an impact comparable to that of a hurricane, my kiddo, the regimented Aspie that only equates summer to freedom because that’s all his brain has known to this point, suddenly has a summer schedule that’s quite busy.
There will be 42 days of summer school this summer so the kiddo can get P.E. and health out of the way before his first day of freshman year. That’s 42 days complete with a mid-term and final.
He’ll work 24 days at his karate dojo teaching lower belts necessary skills so they can advance through the ranks.
The kiddo will attend his own karate class twice a week for a total of 24 sessions before school starts again.
He’ll attend 11 band camp sessions lasting four hours each.
The kiddo will be gone 7 days on an inner city mission trip to Memphis where he’ll roof houses several hours a day.
And of course, we’ll manage to sneak in a six-day vacation the day after summer school finals are complete.
By my count we need 114 days to get all of this done unless we double up, and many days we’re actually tripled up and I’m driving car pool to boot. It’s a first for us. Last summer we only had the mission trip and karate class to deal with. To say that change isn’t coming easy is an understatement.
So it’s true, last Friday when the kiddo and I sat down and wrote out his summer schedule, I was near tears and by the time we got to August 13th, he was fuming. It’s the end of an era around here—those lazy days of summer when I didn’t even have to look at the calendar, let alone set multiple alarms throughout the day so we don’t forget something. Those days when a little boy got to play from sun up to sun down with no thought of forgetting to tend to something important.
Just this morning leaving church, the kiddo watched a toddler run unabashed into the arms of his mom complete with toy in hand, his face laced with not a care other than playing with her. He sighed as he looked to me, his face a mix of wonder and resignation. “Where does the time go?” he asked, a phrase that broke my heart for me because I know he gets it, that things have somehow changed and the clock has started ticking toward manhood. “I don’t know, babe.” I shook my head. “I truly don’t know.”