Its summer break and we are off to do what Olaf that endearing snowman from the Movie “Frozen” and all the other frozen things do in summer! The weather has been quite cold and though we are not quite frozen it’s incongruous that someone who was born and has lived their entire life bang on the equator can talk of summer and especially in this our coldest season of the year.
The children are home for an eight week ‘summer’ break which is their longest break of the school year and I cannot help but look back with gratitude. The year started with a great deal of drama, lots of second guessing some of the choices that we had made and not a few tears. Girl number two cried every morning for the first week in her new school and her mother joined her more often than not. There were morning battles of trying to get everyone ready for school on time for the bus. We wondered at our choice of neighborhood. Maybe if we had moved nearer to the school then everyone would not have to wake up so early and the kids would not be gone from home for quite as many hours. We should probably move, I thought, but we only just moved into our current house and I could not face the thought of another move. Maybe it was a misguided decision; the thought nagged me. There were evening battles as well to get homework done and we never seemed to have everything needed for the next day ready on time. Maybe I should quit working outside home, and homeschool the kids, then we would all live happily ever after, I thought.
And now I look back, amazed that we made it. We settled into a comfortable morning and evening routine, managed to turn in our homework on most days, the girls took responsibility for whatever they would need in school such as P.E kits and swim suits and best of all the morning hours seemed to expand enough for us to fit in a consistent time of devotion. As I reflect on this, I call to mind the lovely prayer of gratitude the Jewish people pray every Passover as they celebrate the deliverance of the Hebrew people from Egypt. The end of that school year does feel like a great deliverance. The prayer centers around a word which in English means “It would have been enough.”
If only you had brought us to the beginning of the school term but not provided good school transportation, it would have been enough. The school does not operate any transportation and therefore has no control over the school-bus culture. From the bullying to X-rated discussions that happen in the buses, we were very fortunate to ‘find’ an operator who shares our values and makes an effort to build a wholesome environment in the bus.
If only you had provided good school transportation but not provided wonderful teachers, it would have been enough. New teachers and the child teacher chemistry are usually a point of prayer for us. This year the teachers were full of interesting experiences and girls genuinely loved them and we the parents bonded well with them as well.
If only you had provided wonderful teachers but not provided interesting activities, it would have been enough. Throughout the year, from class presentations, to concerts and clubs our girls seemed to find and enjoy a wide array of enjoyable activities provided by the school.
If you only had brought us to the end of the school year but not finished debt free, it would have been enough. This is because the school fees seemed harder to pay than in previous years. This is due to some not necessarily very wise choices by yours truly and some emergencies that came up.
If we had only finished the year debt free but not done excellently in school, it would have been enough. Excellent performance is always a tricky one for me to define. How do I balance my need for ‘A’s and a genuine appreciation for the efforts of the one who does not make ‘A’s or bring enough of them home? While in a few areas we had those “progressing towards grade expectations” that I don’t like, the teachers reported that the girls mostly met grade expectations.
If only they had recorded excellent performance but not been healthy, it would have been enough. This was brought to mind strongly when in the last couple of weeks we registered quite a number of mishaps; one girl had a badly swollen upper lip from an encounter with a Frisbee while the other had a swollen eye from an encounter with a swing and two bee stings that caused a bad reaction. It quickly reminded me how normal days are a testimony of God protection from all sorts of things.
And now ‘summer’…
As we celebrate the year end we find ourselves sailing the same boat with many parents wondering how to keep their young ones constructively occupied during this long break. We all seem to be freaked out about resorting to the old faithful, the Telly. Increasingly there are offers of holiday camps with interesting looking activities and prices are also well…interesting.
The children keep asking, what shall we do? We shall get bored…they whine, when mama does not seem forthcoming with ideas. Where shall we go? This question is possibly fueled by stories of the interesting places their friends will be travelling. It makes me look back nostalgically and sing an ode to the ‘good old days’.
In the good old days, we left the house as early as decency would permit and maybe even before it was decent and did not get back before dark. Did we ever eat? Every neighbor was automatically a playmate. Whether it was playing house, hopscotch, hide and seek and various sporting competitions – races, high-jump and the like, there was never a shortage of activities to occupy us. There were no adults to organize “play-dates” or hover around to encourage us to learn to take turns or show good sportsmanship. These things were just somehow naturally learnt.
As we grew older and joined the ‘labor force” you simply woke up, took your breakfast which was largely a cup of tea and a rotation of starches; ugali, sweet potatoes, arrowroots. You picked the appropriate tool for the season; hoe for weeding or basket for tea or coffee picking. There was no shortage of chores to keep one busy and a scenario where one is wondering what do and becoming bored was the stuff of dreams.
Seeing as life is not what it used to be; we have made very grand plans for “summer” and this is what is lined up for my brood;
Chores; feeding our growing flock of chicken and collecting the eggs has been officially handed over to them. So is keeping our compound well swept and clean.
Gardening; each will be helped to establish their own garden and we expect their produce to contribute positively to our family diet.
Vacation Bible School; from the various offerings many churches have, we shall choose one and they will enroll for a week. Our past experience has been all good and we hope to build on this tradition.
Reading; we shall continue to read books and I will bribe if I have to!
Vacation; take a week or two of travelling and visiting relatives. I will ensure a trip to the river so no one talks about the beach after that.
Movies; we have already enjoyed the adventures of Tom Sawyer and we have Fiddler on the Roof and Willy wonka and the chocolate factory lined up.
I do know there will still be a lot of whining about boredom, why can’t we go the beach and why doesn’t mum take time off from work. And I do know that sometimes despite my best intentions I will succumb and allow them watch programs that I am not entirely convinced they should be watching
But all in all I will practice gratitude, attempt to teach it to my young disciples as we enjoy what I imagine frozen things do in summer.
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