The day began like any other day. The morning sun filtered through the kitchen window as I shuffled my way toward that first cup of coffee. The cat rubbed against my leg while she begged for her breakfast, the same way she does every morning. As I poured my coffee, my free hand instinctively slid down the back of my pajamas and began its involuntary sunrise scratching ritual.
But before I could take a sip, something tingled my senses. I couldn’t quite place it, but I was fairly certain it wasn’t good. I froze, coffee cup suspended inches from my lips, as I surveyed my surroundings. Something was definitely different today.
And then I smelled it. I wasn’t sure exactly where it was, but I knew it was close. The unmistakable smell of teenagers.
I set my coffee on the counter and raced down the hall, stopping when I reached a point where the odor became suffocating – directly in front of my son’s room. Taking one last long breath, I buried my face in my sleeve and opened the door. On the bed, I saw my son’s lifeless – but certainly not odorless – body poking out amidst a toxic pile of clothes and blankets. I immediately checked on the other side of the hall and was treated to a similar scene in my daughter’s room. But why? Why weren’t they in school?
And then it all came flooding back to me in a torrent of tears. This wasn’t a nightmare ripped from the merciless bowels of hell itself. No, this was very real indeed – The First Day Of Summer Vacation.
Okay, honestly? While this can be a national day of mourning for some parents, I’m not one of them. At least not for a week or so. After having them around for fifteen years or so, I kind of like my kids and plan on keeping them for at least a little while longer. Summers are a chance to get reacquainted, something every teen looks forward to all school year long!
Sure, food and toilet paper will be scarce until next fall, but that’s a small price to pay. I’ll admit, summers aren’t quite as fun now that they’ve grown up to be angry teenagers who know everything, but I still like having them around. My youngest son will do his best to be on the computer twenty-seven hours a day while his twin sister will whine and gripe about how this is ‘the most boring summer ever’, but I still like having them around. For a week or so anyway.
One of the great things about the end of the school year is the yearbook – the best part being all the strange and entertaining messages their friends have scribbled throughout its pages. Now that my kids are in high school, the autographed material is much better.
In middle school everyone wrote the same thing. “Have a great summer. Call me.” But in high school it gets good, complete with lots of colorful language and interesting clues about possible crimes your child may have been involved in.
“Hey, dude! This was a #%$@% awesome year! Math class sucked, but at least we got back at that $#^%&$*# Mr. Hanson. Good thing he’s an idiot and will never figure out what happened to his #$^@*# car! Man, that was sweet! Still don’t know how you got that fire going before it sank. Let’s hang out this summer, dude!”
You get quite a mix of signatures, too.
From the redneck: “Hey, buddy! Let’s get together and kill something this summer.”
From the hippie: “Just ‘Be’, man. Just ‘Be’.”
From the sappy buddy: “I love you, man! You are without a doubt the best bud a guy could ever have! You move me, man! You are my brother, my rock! Buddies for life, okay?”
From the sappy girl: “OMG! We actually made it, didn’t we?!?!? You have become, like, my best friend in the whole universe!!! I don’t know how I could have faced each day without seeing you in the halls those four seconds every morning to pull me through! I discovered who I really am this year, and I totally have you to thank!!! Even though I only saw you for, like, four seconds every morning, and never said anything more than ‘Hi’, I will always remember your guiding presence in my four years here in this totally awesome home away from home! I don’t know how I can possibly go on now that school is over FOREVER!!!!!! Always know that you hold a totally special place in my heart and that I’ll totally name my son after you one day. By the way, what is your name?”
From the goth: “Well, we made it through this hell. I hope you don’t die this summer, but if you do, I hope it’s as pleasurable as mine will be. Call me.”
Most kids won’t let you anywhere near their yearbook. If that’s the case, just tell them you’ll all be spending the summer getting reacquainted if they don’t hand it over. That usually does the trick.