Ancient History

Follow Me?


What they didn’t learn

The 2013-14 school year is officially over without a single tear shed by anyone. I used to cry on the last day of school, but didn’t this year. The closest I came was the night before Sam’s last day of 8th grade, when I was suddenly seized by a vision of him on his second birthday wearing a paper hat from Krispy Kreme. I don’t know why my subconscious fished out that memory, but it was enough to make me grab and hug him, sniffling, “Oh, Sammy. Sammyball! My Puppy-Dude!” I called him every nickname he ever had while he patiently stood there, accepting my outburst for what it was: Weird but not unexpected. He’s been around for nearly 14 years and knows I can hardly stand all of them getting so big and tall and surly.

Without a lot of fanfare, the last kids finished yesterday morning and suddenly, it’s summer break. The calendar is slowly filling and I scoff at the claim made by Phineas and Ferb about 104 days. It’s more like 75ish, which isn’t enough time to build a portal to Mars. But, we look forward to them like people who are going to be 12th, 10th, 9th, 7th, 5th, and 3rd grades plus a Kindergartner in August. It sounds exciting on paper, but if those days take awhile to get here, that’s cool.

Yesterday, during lunch, I asked each of them to share the best thing that happened to them at school the past year. Ryley went to Arkansas with the Robotics Team. Aidan went camping in Moab with her Honors Field Geology class. Joel went to Mountain Lab School, Sam enjoyed Young International Town. Tommy loved spending a whole day at the aquarium, where he dissected a squid. Beatrix liked everything. Aside from her, their most memorable moments were to places outside the classroom, beyond taupe walls, taupe carpet, smartboards, paneled ceilings, sitting.

I pointed out how they all learned so much. A year ago, they didn’t know what they know now. They shrugged and nodded and passed each other bottles of ranch dressing and orange soda, feasting. Mom says obvious things, right? Then, I was struck by the idea what they didn’t learn this past year was equally as important as what they did learn.

Something horrifically awful happened at my older kids’ high school. But my younger kids were safe. Nothing sidled up to them. Nothing shattered. They were rarely baffled or confused or simply inconvenienced. They completed. They were stretched but never broken. Beatrix didn’t learn how to write geometry theorems. Joel didn’t have to give a speech about Belgium while speaking French.

But what happened this past school year will usher in those abilities someday. What happens—and doesn’t happen—in the summer is just as important, I will always contend. It gives time for the glue to dry before adding another layer of learning until suddenly, he’s speaking French and she just proved that shape right there on the paper is, indeed, a triangle.

We have hopes to be out and about with cold popsicles and hot sparklers, going to bed with dirty feet because it’s too late and we are too tired. It’s incredibly freeing to embrace a summer ahead that isn’t scheduled to the last inch before school starts. I plan to keep the kids busy with the task of not being busy.

Let’s see what we won’t learn this summer.


3 comments to What they didn’t learn

  • For me, having children allows me to relive my own childhood. And few things are as magical as summer vacation.

    As an adult, I pack so much ‘stuff’ into our kids’ lives that learning “not to be busy” is often the trickiest part of any day!

    • Gretchen

      I am trying to just say yes this summer when the kids ask to do things, like run through the sprinklers or buy some ice cream sandwiches. It’s sad how surprised they are when I agree to their schemes! Learning a lot lately.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>