School is out for summer. If you count this two-month pause a true summer break. It sure isn’t the break we used to get when I was in school and school didn’t start back until the middle of August. (That is a definite sign of aging when you start sentences with: “It isn’t how it used to be.”)
Summer is a time for pools and parties for kids. As I’ve come into the parent world I’ve learned summer is one of about three things for adults. It’s a great period to spend quality time with the kids. But, and this is a big but, adults have to keep working, so it’s also a time to scramble to piece together babysitters and childcare. And third, but certainly not least, it’s a time for reflection.
At the risk of losing my comedy-club card and getting too sentimental for my allotted space, I’ll admit I was a little emotional at the end of the school year.
Gracie went through kindergarten graduation recently and I couldn’t help but form a tear or two in the corners of my eyes watching her singing along with her classmates up on stage – belting out the days of the week to a neat rhythm and such. High school seniors graduated a few days later with plans to change the world. As I was watching these five and six year olds, knowing high school graduation was a few days later, I couldn’t help but think – which one will be the star athlete in 10 years? Will any of them drop out? Who will be the valedictorian or the class clown? Who will struggle to learn and who will forge through and earn a scholarship despite seemingly insurmountable challenges?
I don’t know those answers. But the more I watched them sing and dance away in an innocent setting in front of their teachers and family, I became overwhelmed with a feeling of hopefulness. A hope that the innocence pasted across their faces and palpable in their personalities will remain for as long as possible and they will never know the pain of an abusive family or the misery of a hungry stomach.
Maybe that is an unrealistic hope in today’s world that relies on school backpack programs just to be sure some kids eat over the weekend. In a world where parents leave their kids for days or weeks at a time without paying more attention to them than a pile of clothes in the corner of a cluttered room – it’s hard to be optimistic. Maybe it is a hopeless feeling of hopefulness that overcame me.
I pray each kid in that graduation – and at all the kindergarten ceremonies across the county – are given the tools and love they need to be successful. If they aren’t – shame on us as people for not caring for our babies.
In 12 years we will know the answers to my questions. I just hope they all have a chance to get there.
-Josh Peterson is an award-winning editor of the Manchester Times. He has won TPA awards for his writing and photography. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29