Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer "Vacation"

I'm still having a hard time believing that Jacob is done with Kindergarten.  There was so much anticipation and build-up to it, and I guess once it started we were so preoccupied with surviving it, that suddenly it was over.  Somewhere around April I realized that we only had a couple months left and there was life after Kindergarten (hopefully with a different teacher that might be a better fit), and we seemed to coast a bit from there.  Suddenly I realized Jacob actually was learning things despite the constant stream of bad feedback each day.  He could write and read and do math, just like that.  Don't get me wrong, every day involved holding our breath and praying he didn't get in serious trouble, and hoping he didn't have much homework to derail our evening.  But slowly but surely we survived.  It's like when I'm running and that second mile seems so painful...but once I'm through it and realize I only have a little bit left, everything feels so much easier. 

But it just blows my mind that he's done with such a monumental year, and I know the rest are going to go just as fast.  Before I know it, it will be second grade as he moves to a new school, or fifth grade as he goes to middle school, or eighth grade to high school, and who knows where from there.  It's all going to happen in the blink of an eye.  Jacob keeps saying that when Carter is in Kindergarten, he'll be in fifth grade, and on one hand fifth grade seems so far away, but I know how quickly Kindergarten comes, so it's really not as far off as it seems.  Our niece and nephew, who we vividly remember being born, just turned 12 and are going into seventh grade.  I think they're both taller than me now.  I have no idea how that happened.  My kids are going to be the same way.  It's nuts.  And while I know first grade is only going to get harder, I'm hoping he gets a teacher that works for him and things can go a little more smoothly. 

Anyway, we've settled a bit into our summer routine.  Jacob and Carter are now both at the same daycare everyday.  Jacob's happy to be back as a "big kid" and he loves his teacher.  She's young and fun, and if Jacob likes her and is willing to behave for her, that is good enough for me! 

Carter moves up officially next week to the pre-toddler room.  It will be a bummer to move up from his teachers, who I've gotten so close to over the past 16 months.  And I love seeing the babies come in little and grow up.  But it's fun watching Carter hang out with the bigger kids, too.  They're not much older than him, though a lot of them have been walking for longer.  But it's still so cute watching him be one of them! 

It's nice only having one stop at the end of the day and having two kids there waiting for me.  The teachers love both of them, and even Jacob is usually pretty happy to see me.  It's not cheap to have them both there, but I like that they both like it there. 

Now that Jacob has been through a year of real school, summer vacation feels a little funny.  I feel a little bad that his summer vacations bear no resemblance to the ones I had as a kid.  My mom didn't work outside the house until I was in third grade, and after that my brother was older and we could stay home alone.  Most of my summer days were spent hanging out around the house, watching TV, reading books, playing with my toys, riding my bike, playing with friends, running errands, and visiting my grandparents.  The second school ended, I was FREE!  It was the best feeling ever!  I didn't have to get up on time, I didn't have to get dressed, I could snack at will, and do what I wanted.  Instead, Jacob and Carter still have to get up every morning and go somewhere.  They spend all day hanging out with friends and teachers, just like they do all year.  There's very little to separate their school year from their summer, aside from geography (for Jacob, at least).  Maybe the learning won't be quite as intense, but still...freedom, it is not. 

I know that this is all they'll know so it's not a big deal.  It's been this way since they were born and they don't know any different.  They'll probably have some great opportunities that I never had, friendships that I never got to build, crafts and field trips and more constructive use of time, but that summertime freedom made some of my best memories and I'm bummed they won't have that.  The afternoons when I'd ride my bike to my grandparents' house, or when my cousin and I would ride to the playground, or when I'd go to my friend Heather's house and we'd play with her dollhouse, Commodore 64, or our Hot Looks dolls, or we'd try to beat Super Mario Bros.  I read so many books and spent so many hours creating stories with my Barbies.  I'd draw or do crafts.  Or I'd watch insane amounts of TV...much of which was old game shows, giving me a vast, multi-generational knowledge of random pop culture factoids.  When my mom wasn't working I'd get to run errands with her or we'd get a day out for lunch and shopping.  Every once in a while I'd get to go out and do things with my cousins, aunts, and grandma, and we'd have a blast.  I wouldn't trade any of those experiences for anything.  Even though they may never know what they're missing, I feel a little bad that they won't get the same chance. 

But for now they both seem happy, and that's what matters.  I can't say that summer has mellowed Jacob out at all, but it's only just begun.  I'm hoping we still manage to have a summer full of fun, despite our work schedules.  Hopefully a couple trips, maybe some fun evenings out, and possibly a nice staycation where we can all have the same sort of free-wheeling summer vacation that I loved so much.  It's going to be a challenge figuring it all out, but hopefully we can make some awesome memories along the way.

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