Ah, summer. That time of year when you kick back and relax. When you slow down a little bit or not.
For many of us adults summer has become the same as any other time of year-too much to get done, too little time to do it. But grab yourself a lemonade or a Popsicle, get comfortable, and remember back to your childhood with me for just a few minutes.
Remember how excited you were the first day of summer? No more homework, no more tests. Free time stretched out in front of you for as far as your young eyes could see. I still remember that feeling and the Fourth of July kicks off my summer memories every year as I remember back to my childhood summers and the things we did.
I remember being at my grandparents farm on Waneta Lake in New York state with my cousins on my dad's side. My sister and I, along with our two cousins, slept in one big room together and it was like a college dorm. The nights we spent talking about David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman are burned in my memory.
I remember the mornings waking to the sounds of the lake and the neighboring farms. The afternoons spent in the lake or lying on the huge rope hammock swinging and talking. The dinners around our long table where my grandpa would kill a stray fly no matter where it landed. The sticky buns in the morning and the morning we woke to see cows staring in the kitchen window after they had gotten out of the field next door. I remember sparklers at night, bats flying around our heads as we sat on the lawn and played in a huge, smelly army tent during the day.
I also remember visiting my mom's side of the family in the little town of Brownsville, PA. I remember picking green beans out of the garden and the black iron Scottie dog I played with at my great grandparent's apartment. I remember making ice cream sundaes at night and having my great uncle pretend he was a doctor doing an operation as he made the sundaes. I remember burnt toast with strawberry jelly for breakfast. I remember running clothes through my great aunt's wringer washing machine. I remember sleeping in the big bed that had the windows all along the wall and feeling the breeze blow through the bedroom as I lay on fresh white sheets. I remember the five and dime store and the treasures that were in the toy aisle.
All of these memories are not just about the memories of being with family but are about the memory of slowing down, of taking time to just be rather than to be someplace, doing something. In our fast-moving, ever-changing world I think it is even more important that we figure out how to take these times in the summer.
How have you and your child created space to just be? What summer memories will your child have? I loved being a professor when my kids were in school in part because I was better able to make some of this time. Now I find myself working just as much and just as hard during the summer and not stopping to make these times and these memories. But the good news is there is still a month of summer left. Let's all take some time to lie in a hammock, eat ice cream and just be. Let's make some memories with our children. Relax before the summer is over.
Dr. Kim Kiehl is currently vice president of Education and Guest Operations at COSI Columbus.