Those last great days of summer

It still is summer. Really.

Every year in mid-August, with the Halloween decorations already calling to me from every store I enter, I have the same reaction. Don’t shorten my summer!

My kids don’t go back to school for 10 more days. So, right now there’s no early morning rush, no school work to check or agonize over with them, no 3-inch stacks of papers and permission slips coming in the door with them. (With the permission slips coming back over and over because I inevitably don’t get to them before they are lost. Gotta work on that.) Nobody calling me to volunteer for anything. No poster board for some project to be picked up at Target.

The vacations and the camps are over. School is still far enough away that I don’t have to think too much about it. Its just downtime, along with some playtime for them and me.

Yes, its still summer — but sometimes I feel like I’m alone in that view.

Look, it’s not that I won’t be pleased (quite pleased) when my kids go back to school and I get the gift of that time during the day. I’m just saying I don’t want that "gift" yet — I want to relax and savor this time — and the world doesn’t seem to want to let me do that.

It’s not just the Halloween decorations already screaming at me, and the kids (They will of course be joined by Christmas — excuse me, "holiday" — decorations by mid-September.) It’s that the whole world seems to want to cut out these last weeks of summer. Everything is about back-to-school planning and organization, looking ahead to fall getaways and gardens, and advertisements to get that kitchen remodeled now "before the holidays," and on it goes.

It’s mid-August, and we’re already living in fall. That means we lose some of today.

I’m all for getting ready for tomorrow. But I just want to learn to live more with right now. Increasingly our culture is about "what’s coming" not "what’s here." I fall into that pattern too often, but never do I notice it more than in the last weeks of August.

When my kids were at camp this year, they were not allowed to wear watches. Why? Because, the kids explained to me, the camp wanted to help them learn to live "in the moment," and not always be looking to the next activity, the next meal or the next "thing."

They wanted them to learn to enjoy "right now."

I’m not about to give up my watch or get rid of the clocks around the house. But especially as my kids get older, I want to be so much more conscious of just enjoying what I have with them right now.

Today is all we ever know that we have, or have with anyone.

I love an old episode of "The Andy Griffith show." A businessman traveling through Mayberry finds his car broken down on a Sunday morning. Of course, Mayberry is empty as everyone is in church. Anyway, somehow the man links up with Andy, but is frustrated throughout the day as nothing is open, his car can’t get fixed, and no one there seems the least bit concerned that the fellow is going nowhere.

Finally, after a wonderful dinner at Aunt Bea’s, he starts to relax a little bit. He comes to see that "right now" can be pretty wonderful. He ends up not wanting to go anywhere.

I’m definitely a "Type A" personality like that fellow. But toward the end of every summer, when the world has already moved on to fall, I’m reminded again that whatever our culture says, right now is pretty wonderful. And I’m determined to stay there for at least a few more weeks.


(Betsy Hart hosts the "It Takes a Parent" radio show on WYLL-AM 1160 in Chicago and streams live at Reach her through