I have been stressing this summer for Brynna. For lots of reasons, really. I've been worried about affording the massive amounts of camp I've got her scheduled to go to. Most of that affording is done, and now I'm short for regular bills because I've had to pay camp fees upfront. Note to self, start saving in August for summer camp.
I've been stressing what camps to send her to and how seriously to take this whole - "Don't miss camp, as weekly lessons progress and every day is necessary to learning," thing.
I've been stressing how many pairs of tennis shoes and how many swimsuits and do we have enough shorts that fit and I-don't-care-if-you-hate-them-you're-wearing-the-purple-shorts.
I've been stressing her ability to put sunscreen on herself, as the teachers and staff are not allowed to apply sunscreen.
I've also just sort of been stressing. Some intangible thing that I couldn't quantify. Until last night.
Last night, I was watching TV and a commercial came on. I wasn't really watching, just playing on the computer, but the lady said, "I just want my kids to grow up like I did." I felt this sudden sensation, like all the air being forced from my lungs and I realized that is what has been bothering me about camp.
Monday morning, I begged, bribed and cajoled, trying to get Brynna to play outside. Get out of my hair. Move. Turn off the TV. Quit whining about being bored. Just. Go. Outside. She finally gave in and went outside, where she played for 3 minutes and then came in and asked to get on the computer.
In the afternoon, we went to my mom's house and she never walked in the front door. Oh, she wandered in a couple of times looking for something to drink or a potty to use, but she stayed outside the whole day. She played with Papaw and got wet, rolled in the grass and ran and climbed. She dug up earthworms and built them a plastic cup home.
Why, I wondered. Why will she spend 5 hours outside at NiNi's and won't spend 5 minutes outside at home. Because. Because NiNi's outside is better. There's more room, more space, more trees, more shade, more life, more nature, more everything.
I'm actually the same way. I hate spending time outside at home. I will sometimes, on a very pretty day, sit on the deck and read or dig in my tiny, tiny flower bed. But, for the most part, I don't want anything to do with all that sun and heat and buggy grass. But, when I'm at mom's I will gladly sit in the shade on the swing or in one of the big Adirondack chairs for hours. There is a peace there, a freedom, a joy, that our out-of-doors just doesn't have.
And that's what I want for my child. The way I grew up there. I spent my summers sleeping until I woke up, throwing on whatever clothes were handy and clean and doing pretty much nothing. I caught bugs, I played games, I wrote endless songs, I read in the hammock and climbed the doghouses (because I wasn't allowed to climb trees). I explored the hayloft of the barn that had long been stripped of hay and served as a slanty-light storage area. I laid on the cellar door to soak up the cold and watched the rain roll in with my Granddaddy. I played with the feral cats and chased the dogs.
Okay, I watched TV, too. And begged for lemonade. And rode to Southern States with Granddaddy. It wasn't all nature-bonding goodness.
It's not necessarily that I want her to have my time on the farm, so much as my time. I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn or get hauled to camp. I didn't have "learning" activities scheduled for every moment of my summer. I wasn't scheduled at all. Summer meant freedom.
For my daughter, summer doesn't mean freedom, it just means a new set of faces and a new schedule. For that, I am sad.
And yeah, I know I'm romanticizing. I know that I spent plenty of time whining about being bored and Grandmommie had to shoo me outside more than once. I know that there were days too hot to be outside and too still be inside. Days too rainy to do anything. Days when my grandparents plopped me in the car for two or three hours and I was miserable. It's wasn't all roses. I know that I watched The Parent Trap and longed for summer camp. That I would have given my eye teeth for the kind of never-a-dull-moment summer that Brynna is going to have.
But I would have been wrong. I would have been wrong to want that and I would have regretted getting it. I enjoyed my freedom. I was ready to go back to school when summer was over, because by then the freedom had become boring. And that was a good thing. I was refreshed, renewed by summers and ready to jump in with both feet to schedules and activities and education.
I fear that Brynna will never have that feeling. The free feeling on the very first day of summer vacation. The excited trepidation of the very first day back at school. The timeless feeling of laying down in grass over your head knowing you could just stay there for hours and no one would know where you were, but no one would be looking, either.
I'm stuck with what I've got this summer. She'll go to camp, and she'll likely love it. I may be stuck with this forever. I'll never be able to stay home and let her sleep, let her run. I'll probably never live on that much rolling magical land. Summers are never not going to be a time for me to worry about where she'll go and what she'll do. In a couple of short years, I'll add Maren to the fray and I'll be worrying about both of them. I don't know that I'll ever solve this.
But, between now and next June, I'm going to try.