July is half over, which means it's practically time to buy school supplies.
I don't actually buy school supplies until the week before school starts because that's when most items are sold out and I can keep my bill hovering around the $300 mark. But I tend to start panicking about school supplies in mid-July, figuring I'll be buying pencils and glue and folders in that dreadful period of time known as "before you know it."
This summer was going to be different. Every summer is going to be different, but this one was really going to be different. It was going to be carefree and relaxed and filled with sunshine and sleep and yard work and all the things we never have enough time for during the school year.
I had a Summer Action Plan. I didn't write it down or make a Google doc or whatever organized people do with action plans. But it was in my head and I was serious about it.
Yet, here it is July 18. No one's getting any sleep, I've killed all my flowers and my action plan is mocking me.
• My plan: My children will wear themselves out at camp, devour an early dinner, tap into their energy reserves for one final burst of outdoor play and fall soundly and peacefully into a deep sleep by 8 p.m. — 8:30 on Fridays.
• My reality: My children wear themselves out at camp, fight about who's closest to death by starvation until dinner, gain a miraculous second wind upon eating and beg to stay up until 10 p.m. — 10:30 on Fridays. I let them.
• My plan: After crashing at 8 p.m., my children will rise refreshed and delightful by 6:30 a.m. — 7 on Saturdays — ready to seize the day. I will arrive at work early, meet all my deadlines and duck out of the office daily by 4 p.m.
• My reality: After crashing at 10 p.m., my children drag themselves out of bed at 8 a.m., groggy and hungry and begging to watch re-runs of "Good Luck, Charlie." I arrive at work late, barely meet my deadlines … and still duck out of the office daily by 4 p.m. (Sorry, bosses. I write a lot on my laptop after they're in bed. Really, I do.)
• My plan: Because food is provided at camp, I will use the time I typically set aside to pack lunches to go for a run each morning. (I can't even type this one with a straight face.)
• My reality: My daughter won't eat the camp food, so I'm still packing lunches. Which, astute readers will note, takes about six minutes. I could still fit in a run. I have never fit in a run.
• My plan: Time will feel limitless, days will feel weightless, sun will shine uninterrupted and memory banks will be filled to bursting with pools and strawberries and sand and laughter and water balloons and lemonade stands.
• My reality: I might have been two glasses of wine in when I formed that line item.
All is not lost. Six weeks remain before school resumes, and I'm determined to find realistic ways to make this summer different — different from other summers, different from the rest of the year.
One idea I'm grappling with is to fit in less, rather than more, fun. To seek out things that take a while and have to be done slowly. I thought about this at the Logan Square farmers market the other day, which a person cannot walk through quickly. It must be wandered through slowly, allowing time and space for the crowds and the sights.
What if, I thought, we just did everything more slowly? Six weeks of slower walking, slower driving, slower meals, slower books at bedtime.
Fall will still arrive, of course. But maybe it won't arrive as quickly.