Summer School

by Stefani on 11-June-2008

Okay, I know this will sound kinda bad, but I have to admit that I dread summer a little, because all of our usual haunts become VERY crowded. The parks are jam packed, the pool is a sea of small wet bodies, there’s kids darting out from behind the cereal boxes at the grocery store. It about does me in sometimes.

It isn’t that I don’t like kids, I love them, it’s that there’s just so many of them running in every direction!

I’m certain one is going to get lost or I’m going to back into one in a parking lot, or one will wander off into the deep end. I guess it’s just the mother in me, the one that stands up straighter, comes to attention at the sound of a baby’s cry even though all of mine are well past that stage.  All these kids darting about makes this worrisome mama kind of twitchy! Maybe it’s the heat. 

Anyhow, we’ve found this one place that’s completely deserted during the summer… this one fun little spot, just a short bike ride away. It’s like a secret oasis that we have all to ourselves when the summer madness gets to be too much. 

Can you guess where?

School!

The school down the street is so blissfully quiet that the only sound you hear is the rope flapping against the flagpole. 

Summer School

We pack up some snacks, lots of water, shovels, books, and matchbox cars, and we pedal down the road. My boys think it’s endlessly entertaining that they only go to school when no one else is there. They like to make jokes about how they are “backwards” (I tell them not to say this too loudly), or how they go to school with no shoes on, “like in the olden days.” 

Summer Feet

They race their cars down the slides, 

Ready? Set. GO!

and they play out vehicular dramas in the sand

Matchbox Ranch  They swing and slide some too. When they get tired, they lay on their backs and we find pictures in the woolen clouds above, or they close their eyes and float on the waterfall sound of the wind, chasing it’s tail through leaves.

 Then, my backwards, barefooted bunch darts off again, and I stick my nose back into my book. 

I find it kind of funny that I’m still that girl… back against the playground fence, lost in the pages of a story.

The Underneath

Our spot is quiet. Still. Just like the aisles of my grocery store will be again, once more, after Labor Day 🙂

Incidentally, the book, The Underneath, is beyond wonderful. I might be particularly biased because it’s set amongst the red dirt and pine trees of my beloved East Texas, but it’s beauty goes beyond that. 

It’s lyrical, poetic, fluid and dreamy. It is so much more than you’d expect from a children’s book, but exactly what you’d hope for in one. I sometimes get so fully disheartened by the drivel that is marketed towards growing young minds, but this book… this one is special. 

I haven’t finished it, and I haven’t yet decided if it’s maybe a bit much for my littles right now, but I can tell you that I, myself, love it. Love it. Love it. LOVE IT. This is a book that you hear, smell, and feel – you glide, warm and drowsy down it’s river. You find your legs tangled in it’s vining twists. The tale is dark, and endearing and delicious. 

Grab a copy and find yourself a deserted schoolyard! 
Allison Fouse June 11, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Ah yes, the school playground. What a marvelous idea! I remember when I was a kid, during the summer time my step mom would run on the high school track because, well that was her “thing”, and no one was there!

Tiffany June 11, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Beautiful silhouettes! You really captured the “yard ape” as my husband would say.

thimbleina June 12, 2008 at 4:11 am

I love that you are reading that book before reading it to the kids. I bought the Faraway Tree for my daughter and I am disappointed when she doesn’t want me to read it at night, I want to read more and more of it.

Diane June 12, 2008 at 4:18 am

Yipee!! Genius!! And, got to love the homeschool humor… ho ho ho, the backwards boys! ; )

Mandy June 12, 2008 at 5:43 am

You are a mama to inspire all mamas. May we all treasure this whirlwind we call their childhood as much as you do!

Courtney June 12, 2008 at 5:58 am

What a great idea! We’ll be heading (barefoot!) to our local school, too.

Those cars in the dirt cracked me up … they look just like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2220

EvaB June 12, 2008 at 6:34 am

Ha! I feel the same way about summer.:)And the homeschool humor!Classic! My kids like to tell people we only do school whenever there is nothin’ better to do! Adding that book to my list.

Donna June 12, 2008 at 6:56 am

Ahaha, we are the same way. Probably will avoid the zoo and museums until school is back in session. I know exactly what you mean–we get so spoiled getting places to ourselves it’s kind of hard to share with the crowds sometimes 😎

OMSH June 12, 2008 at 9:49 am

The irony is not lost – and I love it.
I’ve added that book to my amazon wish list. It sounds like the perfect read for me.

I too was the girl with the back to the fence and book in hand (when the teachers would let me).

I’m still that girl – which explains why my bum is a bit larger than it should be … too much sitting and too little moving.

kristi June 12, 2008 at 11:00 am

that is too funny. We struggle with the same thing–where to take the kids that is not crowded. Public pools and playgrounds are a sea of people. I never thought of school yards!! I will look into that.

gonzomama June 12, 2008 at 12:49 pm

too funny!
(and i love that sound of the rope against a flag pole)

molly June 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm

i concur, school playgrounds rock…when they’re not crawling with school kids. we spend a great deal of time after school hours at the high school track just over the railroad tracks from our neighborhood, riding bikes around the football field, doing cartwheels in the grass, jumping on the padded pole vault landing, stomping down the bleachers – oh how i love that metallic clang.

have you raided the school garden yet?

heather June 12, 2008 at 9:05 pm

I totally had a flashback looking at the picture of the cars racing on the slide. Completely forgot how fun that is. I think my girls would even enjoy that! Love the jungle gym photo. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m just starting Wrinkle in Time with my 6 year old. I can’t believe I’ve never read it.

Relyn June 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm

I laughed and laughed when I read this post. I also have already requested “The Underneath” from our library. Thanks for the recommendation. Take care.

jackie June 19, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Hi Stefani, I was wondering if I could make a papercut from the photo of the boys on the schoolyard jungle gym? Giving you full credit for your photo and inspiration of course. It is a perfect silhoutte, and a great picture!

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