Some days, it’s hard to be a grown up, especially during the summer.
When I drove home at lunch today, there were several houses with children playing outside. Summer vacation is here and as far as they’re concerned, time is a wide open expanse filled with play time, swimming, late nights and sleeping in the next day.
I miss that sometimes. I don’t think it matters how much you like your job, I’m sure there isn’t a working adult out there who hasn’t, at some point, longed for the carefree days of summer vacation. Certainly, most of us can use some of our precious ‘vacation time’ at work and take some time off but…it’s not the same. Having those seemingly endless weeks without anything firm to do just seems like a luxury we didn’t really appreciate when we had them.
It’s ironic, really. The old adage goes “with age comes wisdom.” The trouble is that it would be nice if we’d had the wisdom earlier so we could appreciate things a little more. The older I get, the more I appreciate the small things. Being a working adult for the better part of 15 years has made me remember the days of summer vacation and wished I’d appreciated it a little more when I had it.
The same goes for school though. In high school, I was shy. I was one of those unfortunate individuals who cared too much about what other people thought. As I’ve grown older, I’m far less shy and I’m far less worried about other people’s opinions of me. I still care, naturally but I don’t care enough to let it stop being me.
I suppose that’s a form of wisdom that I’m slowly gaining as I age. It’s just that I wish I’d known that when I needed it back then. Yet without that experience, I probably wouldn’t have gained the wisdom in the first place. It’s a strange circular pattern.
I didn’t waste my summers when I was a child by any means. There were always friends to be played with, books to be read, games going on in the street in the evening. There were trips to the park, to my grandparents’. There were long walks with my dad in the evenings when the sun didn’t start to set in England until way after 9 p.m.
When we moved to the States, our summer vacation was longer. In the UK, it was always 6 weeks. Here, in the U.S., it was closer to 12 weeks. Those summer vacations were filled with trips to the swimming pool to escape the heat. Trips to the mall because we didn’t have air conditioning at home yet and the mall did. There were get-togethers with friends. I had one friend who had MTV and we didn’t have cable so I’d go over hers and watch MTV while her parents’ were at work. They didn’t really approve of her taste in music- she was into Hair Metal. I learned to appreciate it during those MTV times.
As I got older, responsibility stepped in and I started to babysit a little to earn some money. Then, when I was old enough, I got a job and from then on, summer vacations stopped being a stretch of disorganized time and it became time that was blocked off based on my work schedule and my friends’ work schedules.
I don’t think I can say I truly wasted my summer holidays as a child. It’s just that I don’t think I really appreciated it quite enough. I had that sense of entitlement that children often do in that it was something I was just handed because you couldn’t go to school ALL the time.
I think if I had 12 weeks off now, I’d try to savor them more. I’d use the time to write a lot, to work outside, to spend with my family and my dogs. I’d do all those little things I keep meaning to do but never quite have the time, all those little projects that we’d all like to do but whenever we have any free time, something more necessary comes up.
Yet, the truth is, I don’t have those 12 weeks. I have two weeks’ vacation time per year which is not a bad amount of time but it’s time that must be spent wisely and not squandered. It’s not like those 12 gaping weeks that used to happen every summer from the time I started going to school until the time I stopped and became a working adult.
For the most part, being a grown up is definitely better than being a child. I mean, nowadays, if I want ice-cream, I can go get ice-cream. Granted, I tend to try and go for the Skinny Cow type of treat because, well, with age comes a slower metabolism. However, I can have it whenever I want it. If I want to see a movie, I can go see a movie. If I want to go to the library, I go to the library. You get the picture.
It’s just that sometimes, on beautiful days today when the sun is high in the sky, the temperature is 78 degrees and the breeze is perfect, I do have a bit of envy to those children I see playing carefree in my neighbourhood because they can stay outside and enjoy the day and not have to go back to work after lunch.
They really don’t know how lucky they are. But they will, someday when wisdom catches up to them.