I have just spent a week at the beach with my family – husband, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren. It was a week of sea, sand, sun, and fun but now I'm back. School is about to start and that means Kiley's mom goes back to work as a teacher and Kiley comes back to me nine hours a day five days a week starting Monday. Summer is over.
Have you noticed how short the summers have become? This one sure went fast. I don't mean the meteorological definition of summer. That varies depending on what part of the earth you are talking about. I'm not talking about solstices and equinoxes, the length of days, or earth's position in relation to the sun and all that. I mean the real definition of summer, the kid definition of summer, the only definition that has any real meaning. When school starts, regardless of the date, the weather, or anything else, summer is over. And here we are about to start school again.
When I was a kid summer started early in June when school let out and ended when we went back to school after Labor Day. Labor Day always marked the end of summer, the last hurrah before the return to drudgery. And celebrating Labor Day is the most appropriate way to end summer. Let's be honest, Labor Day is not a day to celebrate America's labor movement, for God's sake. It is not a "celebration of the social and economic achievements of workers". Good Lord! What are we communists? Labor Day is a celebration of not working. That's why it's a paid holiday and nobody has to go to work. This is especially true for kids. To kids Labor Day is a celebration of fun, adventure, discovery, irresponsibility, freedom, and everything else that embodies those happy, carefree, golden days that we call "summer". Yes, it is a bittersweet holiday. It marks the end of all those wonderful things. That is exactly why it is such a special holiday. An important holiday. A day for one last picnic, one last barbecue, one last dive into the pool, one last celebration when we can all gather together (in shorts and sandals) and, eat, drink, laugh, and thumb our collective noses at everything that is not summer – responsibility, regimentation, routine, boredom, drudgery, and, yes, labor.
It's different now. The summer no longer ends with Labor Day. Someone, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the kids would go back to school and summer would end on some random day in the middle of August. Why? Who knows? For whatever reason some idiot on the School Board decided that decades of American tradition and the sense of fellowship and community that go with it weren't worth squat. But that's the way we live our lives now, isn't it? We have lost control (or rather ceded control) of just about everything from what words we can say and what opinions we can hold to what our children learn in school and what holidays are important. That's the general state of affairs in what used to be America. Oh, well. No sense crying over spilled milk. The bottom line is, school starts tomorrow. Summer is over. I just wish they had let us have our party first, to celebrate the golden days that have just past. It would have been nice.