It’s an image that is as iconic as it is cliched – the joyful parents who can barely contain their glee when their kids are getting ready to return to school in late August, dancing, shouting and singing. As the community pool closes down and the air starts to chill in the evenings, the sun starts to set earlier and parents are as giddy as kids are on the last day of school.
I don’t know where that feeling comes from. When the summer winds down and the hours tick way on the last few hours of that last, glorious Sunday in August, I am filled with such a feeling of melancholy that it makes me feel like I’m eight years old again and I’m the one going back to school after three months off instead of realizing that I’m just dropping my daughter off in a different place starting Wednesday. From a practical standpoint, I’m thrilled that fall is coming; I love the cooler weather and all that comes with it. The autumn, replete with apple-picking trips, football on television, the promise of the winter-sports season and a return to actually enjoying cooking over a hot stove are cherished images to me, and with luck, we’ll get one of those warm autumns that allows for fun outside during the day and lets us hang out under a blanket watching a movie at night.
But the end of summer always catches me somewhere in my heartstrings. The closing of the parks program and the community pool are always sad milestones; a reminder that there are only so many summers in your life, that moments are fleeting and ephemeral and that memories remain ensconced in your heart for decades afterward.
In fact, I think I feel a tear coming on.
It’s only gotten worse since my children were born. I’m quickly realizing that my daughter’s childhood summers are also numbered, and so I encourage her to get as much out of them as possible, because before long, that’s the only way you’ll be able to revisit those halcyon days: in your heart and in your mind.
My son is only starting to understand what summer is all about – endless, hot days, swimming in the pool, running around with less clothing (or in his case, no clothing. He spent most of Sunday naked and was thrilled about it), and the feeling of no accountability. In that vein, I feel that somehow, we have to try to squeeze one last weekend of summer out if it – and fortunately, with Labour Day on the calendar, we have that opportunity.
So when Friday rolls around, I plan on spending three days relaxing and letting the world pass me by and spending it in full summer mode – because all I’ll have left after that will be memories.