There's one more week of the school year for Little Man and Younger Son. And it strikes me, as that time nears, how odd it is, that for so many years of our lives (well, mine, in particular after 20 years of school) how odd it is to have a year ending at the cusp of Spring into Summer. For reasons I can't really explain, other than long attenuated habit, this time of year feels more like the "end of the year" for me than does the transition of calendar years. I'm sure those in education probably share that trait. And of course, it follows too, for many, if not all of us, to think of the summer as a different season. The time of going away. Vacation. The beach. Swimming. I'm sure the list is varied for everyone, but somehow, the transition into that time is like going off into faerie land. More so, I think for children who in fact get a very long break from the day to day life of school, and homework. Perhaps I'm waxing nostalgic about summers because I've got plans in two weeks to meet up with a bunch of old neighborhood friends from my carefree bike wherever I want all day long and do whatever I feel like with the gang days. They were quite good days filled with crazy adventures. Insane risks. Fights. Friendship and bonding.
It brings to mind how different the world is today, in many ways, from those days, oh, only a few decades ago. Sure, there's plenty that's just the same. But I can't imagine the unmitigated trust my parents had in me that I had 8-10 weeks of the year where I would essentially disappear into the ethereal landscape with my friends and just who knows what sort of mischief we got ourselves into during those hours, until, when it was dusk enough to realize it, I'd meander on home (if I hadn't stayed out too late already and my folks or brother would come get me.) And of course, things were different because it only mostly seemed as if we were unsupervised kids. But our families had roots in the neighborhood. Aunts and uncles that saw us pass by. Kept tabs on the kids. Knew enough to tell when we were pushing the boundaries that bit too far. (Well, mostly. I know we got away with some things we never should have.) But today, families spread out more. We don't have the same roots. My children don't have aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles, and great cousins, etc. peppered all through our block.
Of course as an adult, you don't get to visit faerie land the same way. As a child, you saw it as wonder. That freedom. That blank slate. That moment when you, and your companions could take on any adventure you could dream. As a adult, as a parent, you see the dangers lurking in that wood. And the terror that hides around the corner. And it makes you anxious. Anxious to let the little ones go off in carefree fashion. A conundrum, how to keep them safe, without cutting off their own ability to explore, to wonder, to do? I'm sure it's a conundrum that has faced countless generations before, but, well, this is the time I stare into it. Of course, my boys are young yet, so I have time to ponder it before I have to decide how we will live it. But faerie land is there. Every year, waiting--waiting to share its promise of fireflies and moonlight, and thunderstorms and sun showers, open fields, and dark woods.