On the last day of school when my kids were little, I delivered teacher gifts, dashed out to buy snacks, returned library books, and took photos of the kids getting off the school bus. Then, I packed up our stuff and we spent the afternoon at the lake.
On the last day of school now that my kids are in high school, I saw an assortment of teenagers come through my kitchen (some of them, mine), wrote about leukemia for a bunch of hours, listened to an impromptu song on a ukulele, and fielded a couch-to-bathroom text from a child who needed a ride. Then I dropped him off at the lake.
That’s where I saw the town’s younger kids and their parents, carrying on the tradition of spending the first afternoon of summer break on beach chairs or in the lake. Like the parents before them — like me — they will dole out snacks, slather on sunscreen, and start up the grill for dinner by the beach. They will savor the end of school, and look forward to more sunny days at the lake.
But in my house, this is no longer our summer break. This is my kids’ break. Their summer jobs, their buddies coming and going, and often without my car’s help, their plans, their vacation. I will pass them in the kitchen, text them from a Manhattan-bound train, and watch them come and go. But I will not be in charge. I will not be their Summer Director.
Later, I will drop off my non-driving kid at the high school, where he and the rest of the band will play “Pomp and Circumstances” for the graduating class. I will do it again next year, but the year after that, his brother will graduate. And the following year, he will graduate. And then there will be no more summer breaks around here.
And I will sell the house and move away from here, away from the lake, away from summer break.
But at least no one will eat all my snacks.