Yesterday Was The Last Day Of A Long Summer

Today is the first day back to school for two of our children. It’s significant for two reasons:

  1. One of our children is starting their Freshman year of High School while the other is beginning their Senior year
  2. It is the first time they have been back to school in person in 18 months

Internally, I’m a bit emotional. After a year and a half, I got used to working with them in the house. Sure, they’re typical teens, spending a lot of time in their room with the door shut, but they were there. I’d see them during breaks, meals, random bits of day. Maybe the older of the two would make a bag of popcorn for an afternoon snack and casually drop off a bowl at my desk. And then there’s our oldest, who is moving to college in a few weeks.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, because if the middle child is a Senior today, that means we have less than a year before they moved off to college too. How did they go from being the little people that you made giggle until their faces turned red, rolling in sheets decorated with flowers and fairies, to young adults preparing to leave for school? I’m barely reconciled with the oldest leaving to even begin contemplating the next kid.

And I feel guilty, because there’s a small part of me looking forward to the freedom and silence of having no children at home. But I think I want that freedom for just a few hours at a time. I’m not ready to be the father of children that have left home. This is the part of parenthood that you know is coming from day one, but when it gets here is a mad rush of chaos that happens too fast.

So yesterday was our last day of summer with all three guaranteed to be in the house. It was a quiet day. We spent some time spent together, just being us. It was nice.

A Penguin Summer

This past summer, I tried to have a Summer of Penguin. Here’s how it went, how it failed, and I how I didn’t understand what I was taking on. A follow up post will cover the iteration it inspired by accident.

When I was a teen (and, honestly, well into my 20’s), I worked for a public library system back in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area. I was fifteen when I started working in our tiny branch in North Stafford after school and weekends and quickly adapted to thinking of the library staff as an extension of my own family. One of the librarians in particular, LVK, offered me this advice once:

This summer, for every fun book you read, read one classic.

LVK

I, of course, scoffed. What did LVK know about me or my reading? I continued on my way, devouring a half dozen books a week, most of which I couldn’t recall the titles of now. But that advice haunted me, stuck with me, became a lamp post goal.

Until this summer when I tried it. I had grand plans, mind you – I average a week or so per book. Sometimes more if it’s a “thicker” read, sometimes less if I’m really into it. Surely I could knock off a half dozen books over the course of a summer?

With this in mind and the arrogant confidence of my teen years slipping through after all these decades, I bought a dozen Penguin Classics in hardback. They’re all books that are on the poster my oldest gave me, all books I want to read. How could this be a problem?

As it turns out, I can’t read them anywhere near as fast as I thought I could. Of the dozen or so books I set out with, I’ve read three so far. I’m still trying, and even that three feels like an accomplishment. The first book was Lord Jim, then Moby Dick followed (eventually) by The Picture of Dorian Gray. I really loved the Picture of Dorian Gray, which was a much easier read with a lot less whale bits. I read other books at the same time, and was often amused to see that most of them bore the Penguin imprint. I wish that had been on purpose.

Why Penguin? This goes back to college, when they were the publisher of choice for most of my Classics and Philosophy texts. I tend to enjoy/prefer their translators and formats.

Would I consider this a success? I think so. I finished this summer (school starts here on Wednesday) having read more from the classical canon than when I started the summer, and I do feel wiser for it. Will I continue? The pile of clothbound Penguin classics I bought in anticipation says yes.

But this also inspired me to try another reading experiment, the topic of a future blog post. Until then, keep reading!

The best laid plans of mice and men are drowned in summer wine

When I set out on this weekend Friday, I had no plans. It was glorious – a weekend without commitments, without obligations, even without errands. Maybe a few chores – a body needs to bathe and wear clean clothes, after all – but nothing too demanding or distracting.

Alas.

First it was the middle daughter. We’ve been working on her driving (she wants to get her license in a few months when she turns 18), and she came to me with a bold plan: what if we went driving Saturday, practiced some things, and oh by the way, go see Suicide Squad while we’re over at the mall practicing?

Coy, clever, and of course, it worked. The movie, by the way, was a bit violent, a bit gruesome, and yet we both really enjoyed it. A lot. Also, it made a great PSA for wearing a mask.

Meanwhile, our youngest has been going to an arcade with a friend and their family just up the road in Vancouver. I’m sure you can see where this is going, and if not, I’ll go ahead and spill the beans – me, my three kids, and the friend all drove up to Vancouver Sunday afternoon.

Why am I such a pushover? Because this is the last summer it’s guaranteed to be all three kids are home. Our oldest is heading off to college in a month. That middle daughter? Entering her senior year of High School in a few weeks. And the youngest? A freshman. Time is catching up with us and I’m trying to drink as much of the last of the summer wine as I can before this next, scary phase of our lives has a chance to start.