Today’s guest post is from Linda at Adventures in Expatland. Linda writes prolifically and brilliantly about her life in the Netherlands and the expat experience. I’m certain she was a spook for the CIA in her former life, though she denies it. ‘If I told you,’ she said, ‘I’d have to kill you.’ Here she writes about the glories of summer. When I read her post, my own childhood memories came flooding back. Remember the days when summers lasted forever? These days, the years just fly by. At this rate, it won’t be long before I’m six foot under.
Growing up as a child in upstate New York back in the US, summer was a gloriously sunny season that seemed to go on and on. That is, when it wasn’t raining. Which wasn’t all that often, but still. After morning chores were completed, my days were generally my own, filled with swimming, riding bikes, the annual family vacation. More than anything else, summer meant just hanging out with friends.
We finished the school year in mid-June, and didn’t have to report back until the day after Labor Day. Since this national holiday must fall on the first Monday in September, that usually meant we headed back to school sometime during the first week of the month. The entire months of July and August were summer, pure and simple.
A few times I recall the thrill of September 1st arriving on a Tuesday. That meant that in those special years Labor Day Monday would fall on the 7th, and we didn’t have to go to school until the 8th. The 8th! I still recall that magical feeling that we’d somehow wrangled a few extra precious days of summer.
As I got older and moved around the country a bit, I learned that school districts in other cities and towns had sizable leeway in setting their school calendars. When we lived in Arlington, Virginia (outside of Washington DC), the local school district chose to cut back on a few vacation days during the year to allow children to finish earlier in June, yet they still adhered to the day after Labor Day as the start of the new school year.
Imagine Son and Daughter’s dismay the year we moved further south to North Carolina: school started and ended two weeks earlier. Their summer freedom that year was shortened by two full weeks. They were livid. I recall unpacking boxes in our new home to the sweltering chorus of Two full weeks! We’ve been robbed. Cheated!
Let me tell you: Handel’s Messiah it wasn’t.
We settled in, and for five years it was fine. Then we moved to The Netherlands. And you’ll never guess what we learned. (Yeah, right, like you couldn’t see this coming a mile away.) Their international school started one week – all together now – earlier than their schools back in North Carolina.
I’d like to say that they handled it better this time because they were older, more mature, and guided by my stellar parenting skills. Actually, it was because Son and Daughter were so bored not knowing anyone and so overwhelmed with culture shock that they were happy to get back into the school day grind just to meet others who could help them make sense of their new world. Oh, and we didn’t have cable television at home yet.
With school starting August 17th this year, I’m going to be at home by myself during the final days of August. And what will I be doing? Working, of course. Except for those extra special days of fabulous weather when I reclaim summer and steal away for a few hours, riding my bike on beautiful trails to the beach.
Shhhhh…don’t tell the kids.