Sorry, coach, no can do. Daily soccer practice might have worked, this last week of summer, had we not already come down with last-week-of-summer-itis. You know that thing that happens when you realize that "THIS summer will never happen again," there are a few things yet to be enjoyed, and there are but a precious few unstructured days left with which to enjoy them? Yeah, I’m suffering from a classic case of “Say it ain’t so, summer can’t go!”
By the time the soccer thing was floated the kids and I had already sketched out our own game plan for this week, issued invites to their friends (Holly even created a calendar that included the long-range forecast for each day so we could make the most of the weather), and cemented our plans.
Soccer wasn’t the only wonderful thing that competed for our attention, this last week of my kids’ freedom from the structure of school and schedules, but guess what? The fun won.
For example, when she might have been at practice, Holly and I brought her friend along with us to see the movie “The Giver.” It was opening night, they’d been plotting to be there, and that was that. Another day, our family headed out to the Geneva Kayak Center in Yorkville to go tubing on the Fox River. What a blast! To be honest, my kids weren’t totally sold on the idea (indoor pursuits beckoned), but then we strapped on our lifejackets and helmets. After we bubbled over the first of several wee "rapids," I looked back over my shoulder and spotted Noah grinning ear to ear. “Is that a smile I see?” My heart fills to bursting whenever I see one of those.
I got a few more, when I brought the kids and their friends to the Morton Arboretum on Thursday. As always, the towering trees of the magic-filled spruce grove (my kids and I have likened it to Narnia for years) did not disappoint. This time, but for a moment, it even returned my little boy to me. Sure enough, my 16-year-old, who now towers over me like a tall spruce himself, picked up a stick and carried it. “I’m a nature boy, Mommy,” he’d once said on a walk through these very same woods, years before on one of our first visits, then with a much smaller stick in his grasp.
Later, as I followed him and the others through a treehouse, high above the children’s garden, Noah informed me that, “The wood is molten lava,” and then showed me how to traverse the treehouse by creating footholds in the sturdy netting that served as walls. Sure, OK (I did it!), but you should have seen the look on the face of the kid behind me when I passed the message along. “It’s a movement!” Noah proclaimed, as we turned a corner and realized that the message had spread. I’d merely hoped to fill the kids up with the out-of-doors before they all got stuck behind their desks, but these moments filled me, too.
Another day this week, Holly and I went to Chicago with our friends, her Naperville bff, Alana, and Alana’s mom, Deann. It takes a bit of planning to coordinate our schedules now that we live 45 minutes apart, but we were determined to squeeze in one last visit before school started – and we did.
We spent a few fun hours at the Shedd Aquarium, and then we took a refreshing dip in Lake Michigan at the beach beside the Adler planetarium as the sun sank low in the sky. What a view. Our beautiful girls may be maturing quickly, but not so fast that they didn’t want to practice their handstands on the beach. Later that evening, when I could have been sitting at my desk and participating in an exciting writing webinar (that included feedback from an editor), we giggled and talked over burgers. Our conversation, which spanned subjects from the serious to the silly, continued way past our bedtime – but we didn’t rush it, even when we arrived back in Naperville to drop off our friends. I simply turned off the car and we kept right on giggling. That’s a bubble I wouldn’t have dreamed of popping.
I was reminded, that day we went tubing, that life is about "going with the flow." There’s a time and a season for everything. When things are slow-going, like they were when I got stuck in a section of the river with no rapids, or even when I stalled-out altogether – when it seemed I would never get past the pool of apparently still water (it wasn’t, really, it just felt that way) – that’s when I need to rest and refuel. Soon enough, the flow will pick back up and carry me onward, but meanwhile, I need to just lean my head and enjoy the view. Indeed, right now – until dawn on Monday morning, by golly! – our season is summer.
• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at email@example.com.