Friday, July 22, 2016

Perspective: A Cure for the Summertime Blues

A meme making its way across the internet a while back went like this: "So often in life what screws us up in life is the picture in our head of how it's supposed to be."

While this is food for serious thought and self-exploration I'll apply it to a less lofty purpose here. Specifically, my begrudging acceptance of the reality that summer bears no resemblance to the picture in my head of how it's supposed to be.
The boys taking a break from their new "park."

And that picture began to take shape many, many, many, many years ago when I was a kid looking forward to the end of the school year.

As the calendar marched through spring into May and June, the anticipation of a summer outside the confines of the classroom was practically unbearable.

Weeks in advance I could barely restrain my glee. Finally, all that waiting culminated in one final bell marking the end of another school year.

What awaited the littler version of me once class was dismissed for the year was a teacher-free summer filled with long, sunny days spent riding bikes to far-off creeks, ponds and parks.

When I was lucky enough to scrounge up enough loose change, I'd make the occasional trip to the convenience store to buy a coke and chips. It was simple but it was oh so good.

This was what I knew summers to be and, based on that ideal, I knew exactly what they'd look like when I grew up.

This picture included long, sunny days spent lazing by a pool or slowly swaying in a hammock bathed in shade. The only cause "grown-up me" might have to get his blood pressure up during this time of year would be the realization that he'd have to mow the lawn — sometime.
Pictured: how it's supposed to be.

It's pretty much a real-life version of Homer Simpson and, of course, completely unrealistic.

That's because when you get older you realize a few things, chief amongst them, it's never a good idea to emulate Homer Simpson.

Another huge point is that there are very few jobs in which one gets to take an entire summer off.

So, sure, you could spend your time in a hammock, or by the pool but eventually bills have to be paid and unless you're lifeguard or a highly skilled hammock quality inspector, you're probably out of luck.

I say "probably" because I happen to be married to a woman who is in fact setting herself up for just such a life.

You see, one day in the not-too-distant future, Mrs. Blackwell will be Professor Mrs. Blackwell, living in the lap of time-rich luxury the confines of the academic calendar provides.

As for me and the billions of others like me, well, it's a different kind of reality. And, while it's not the picture I had in my head, it's not a bad one as it turns out.

Recent experiments in which Mrs. Blackwell and the kids have been away for a couple days while I'm off work have revealed that I'm not especially good at sitting around.

About half way through the second day I've usually eaten no fewer than three fast-food meals and I've done little that could be described as productive, including change my clothes.

So, no wonder the ideal summer doesn't look the same. If it did, I'd be the creepy dude riding his BMX down to the creek and fishing through couch cushions so I could go buy a Coke.

Out and about. Concert-going
at the footsteps of the Capitol.
Instead what my summer looks like is this:

We put in a playground for the kids so, now everyday when I get home, I'm outside in short order pushing my boys in their swings. (Yes, even though he's just eight months old the New Little Guy likes to swing. He is after all wearing clothes meant for 18-24 month olds, so he's sturdy enough to handle the baby swing.)

In general this picture is busier than the winter months and the thoughts of short, dark days and cold, cold nights grows realer by the day.

The warm weather — and the slower pace of life it brings with it — only lasts so long here in Whizzkaahhnsin so you'd better make the most of it.

Doing this means going to concerts outside, taking day trips to nearby lakes and occasionally (thank God) the odd brewery. Ultimately this picture includes looking for any excuse to get out of the house and go somewhere different, even if it's to buy donuts and take the kids to a park they've never seen before.

And with that "seize the moment" mentality in mind it's pertinent to mention that the New Little Guy just got his first teeth this week. He's been crawling for months. He's pulling himself up on furniture and now this.

For whatever reason he's in a hurry to grow. Between that, the weather and the long days, I've got all the incentive I need to make the most out of these next few weeks.

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