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Curt Slocum

Summertime in Maine Means "Time out"
By Curt Slocum
Jun 30, 2004 - 12:28:00 PM

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Have you seen the kids running in the yard, at the beach, in the store, or the church pews lately? Isn’t it wonderful? They run so every precious minute of summertime isn’t wasted getting to and from something they want to do. And that’s the way it should be.

My eight year old Truman looks like the scarecrow in The Wizard of OZ when he runs; where joints are held together by the fabric he’s wearing and arms and legs want to go in multiple directions at the same time. He’s a human windmill even while standing still. Every cell in his body is growing, multiplying and free to do as much as possible before having to sleep again. The longer summer days offer more time to explore, play and pretend. Pretending, what a wonderful concept.

Summertime the rules get bent.  Popsicle’s with breakfast and a Tootsie Pop before lunch just because it tastes good. One square foot of the yard holds a world unto itself with bugs being invaded by prehistoric looking monsters of turtles, frogs and an occasional praying mantis. And there are new worlds to discover along the water’s edge, beach and woods. Time in a car is space travel to another planet.

That’s the way life should be in summertime, especially in Maine, where thousands of kids travel hundreds of miles to stop and consider a shell, a starfish or a tree to climb and play Tarzan. It’s a time to take it all in coming and going.

By the end of June, parents have had a chance to retrain themselves. We change our thinking about the competitive world in which we live and the advantages we are all trying to give our kids. We let down our guards and let kids be kids – and it is hard. Camps specializing in advanced academic curriculums are places we actually considered sending the kids last March are now forgotten. The guilt subsides. By now it’s sunk into our heads that there isn’t homework due in the morning or an I.Q. test to be taken thus locking up the kids’ careers or impacting their Permanent Records. SAT scores can wait as weekdays and weekends effectively blur together as the Fourth of July approaches. The idea of beach picnics, family parties and fireworks are more important than college entrance exams, American literature or the three “R’s” – at least for now.

We pride ourselves in making our homes and communities safe havens. If only for a little while, Barney, Cinderella or the Muppets replace the morning background noise of network news on war, terrorism and politics.  In the scheme of things we begin to remember to give our kids what we had as kids ourselves and not to worry as much about what we didn’t. We vacation together wondering if today is Saturday or Monday? We shrug and ask, “Dunno, does it matter?” The answers seem irrelevant but adult instinct tells us differently. The fact that it doesn’t matter matters most. It’s a time out we need.

Go fly a kite. Walk the beach.  Pick wildflowers and tell stories about what it was like when you were kids…the same stories our parents told us. “When your grandmother was a girl they used to pick lobsters right out of the rocks at low tide…big ones too.” And my favorite, “Grampa used to read books at night by the light of the fireflies, there were just so many.” Search for deer prints or spot a bald eagle together, the kids will always remember it…fondly.

We try to remember that it is the journey as much as the destination that’s important and that the trip is a short one no matter how fast you go. In a corporate world filled with Columbine, al-Qaeda, bin-Laden and Hussein - there is Maine.

Enjoy every minute of it.

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