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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

It’s not so easy to enjoy summer anymore

By Suzanne Perez Tobias
The Wichita Eagle

I’m not sure when it started, but local school districts and businesses are conspiring to kill summer vacation.

Otherwise, why would online enrollment begin before July Fourth?

Why would Target and Walmart already be awash in notebooks and calculators?

Early enrollment and shelves full of crayons and lunch boxes must delight those moms and dads who plan ahead — the same folks, no doubt, who finish their Christmas shopping in August.

I hate those people.

And I hate this earlier and earlier push toward fall, especially since, in my mind, summer just started. Our beach towels and flip-flops are barely worn, our bug-spray bottles nearly full.

Forget that my son has been swimming every day for two months and that his summer swim league’s season ends after championships this weekend.

Forget that my daughter already earned her first high school credit, having completed three arduous weeks of summer P.E.

Forget that The Eagle is preparing its annual back-to-school issue and that I’m getting daily e-mails about nifty school products like locker wallpaper, twist-up crayons, washable dry-erase markers and water bottles that hold house keys and ID cards.

I don’t care about all that.

I don’t care about the convenience of online enrollment.

And I don’t care that another 173 school days are barreling toward us like a herd of buffalo wearing skinny jeans and monogrammed backpacks.

I’m in denial.

I’m one of those parents who actually enjoys summer days with my kids, when we can hang out at the pool, take walks, have friends over, enjoy outdoor concerts or stay up late watching “MasterChef.”

Mornings are calm. Afternoons are unhurried. Evenings are homework-free — or nearly so, as both kids still need to complete summer reading assignments. (Brutal.)

Say what you will about summer “brain drain” or the need for year-round school so our children can compete in the global marketplace. I’ve seen the research. I know it’s true.

But it’s also true that old-fashioned summer, at least a taste of it, heals mind, body and soul.

My friends Lacy and Kenton and their 8-year-old son, Judah, are spending their summer checking items off their summer bucket list — a practice I love and heartily endorse.

So far, they’ve rolled down a hill, eaten octopus and a pomegranate (not together), drank soda-pop suicides and leapt from a high dive, and Lacy has thoroughly, joyfully blogged about it.

I can’t wait for them to tackle my favorite item: “Buy something over and over in a disguise.”

Hee. Even just reading it makes me smile.

Interestingly, “buy school supplies” is nowhere on the family’s summer to-do list. Neither is “enroll early.” Judah will sign up for school in due time.

And when he finally returns to school next month — we’ve still got a month, people, do you hear me?! — and his teacher assigns that “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” essay, he’ll have something to write about.

Will you?

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com.

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