The teacher gifts have been given; the slew of artwork has been returned home; the yearbooks have been signed, read and reread ten times. No more lunches to make and carlines to wait in! No more math sheets to correct or spelling words to memorize! Three cheers for summer!
Yet, I have the rare children who love school, the ones who cry before school lets out because they are really going to miss “the work.” They love their teachers and friends as well as the routine and regularity of the school day.
Lest I be dishonest, I feel inclined to share that I also love the school day. As an introvert, I crave the quiet and stillness, the chance to recharge and rest up for the rest of the day with my lively boys. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and treasure time with them; however, staring at two plus months of mostly blank days gives me the hives.
In an effort to create some form of a structure for our endless summer days, I sign up the boys up for a few camps, plan play dates, set up reading and Bible time. I print out calendar coloring pages so they can take ownership of our June, July and August and know what is coming down the pipe. I make laminated checklists for chores and responsibilities. The whole schtick.
Yet, inevitably, I have the dreaded summer fears meltdown. Maybe some of you build slowly up to hitting this wall. I, on the other hand, usually hit it on day two. This year I delivered right on schedule.
Coming off a soul-feeding time away, I was certain I would be able to make it until the second week of summer this year (which would have been a personal best). However, manna doesn’t keep. All the rest and Biblical truths and precious perspective I stored up for days was maggot-infested in days. You would think I would have learned that by now, but every time the stored up manna turns, I am shocked.
Planning is a good thing, a necessary thing, a right thing. My problem with plans is that I tend to trust in them, to look to them for security, rather than to the Lord of life. You see, our Father would have us depend upon Him, look to Him, be filled by Him at every turn of every day. Yesterday’s perspective or resolve will not do for today.
In the summer time especially, I feel the press of the world’s pattern in parenting. The ads in magazines and on the television and even the advice of well-intentioned parents would have us believe that our children’s well-being and joy depends upon consuming and being entertained. Consuming the right foods, going to the best camps, having the new and latest educational toys, these are the pressures I feel acutely during the summer.
In this mindset, our children’s boredom is our failure because entertainment is the highest goal. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good jumpy jungle or timely trip to the ice cream store, but the family life and the happiness of our children cannot be built around entertainment.
During the long summer months, I have to fight against the temptation to let my children watch too much TV simply because I am tired. I have to build in more chores, not less, because I want my children to know that family includes privileges and responsibilities. I have to let my children be bored so they can find the joys of creativity and also be reminded that there is more life than entertainment.
But more than any of these things, I must run to Jesus and His Word in a daily desperation to be pressed into His thinking rather than the mold of this loud and pushy world. Where the world would have us be entertained, He would have us be trained. Where the world would have us consume, He would have us create and serve.
His desire for all His children (which includes us parents) is that they become more like Him, valuing highly what He values highly.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2).
I long for our summer months to be those of treasured memories and fun camps and sweet treats, but even more so than these things, I long that these months would be marked by time spent with Jesus and His Word. This will require intentionality and energy that I do not have. Even there, I must run to Jesus to receive all that is required of me.
Three cheers for summer and for the Ono who can conquer our summer fears!