As this long Fourth of July weekend seemed to zoom past, I noticed how many activities we pressed into these scant few days and evenings. I felt like our weekend actions were very much like the prongs on Lady Liberty’s crown, shooting out in many different directions at once. I did stick to my plan of not scheduling past this weekend. This, of course, leaves me to face the balance of this short week with long lists and longer days, both conflicts for my get-more–sleep plan. Even though I didn’t plan so much ahead, it was a busy non-stop weekend, full of traditional July 4thevents as well as many new ones. That’s how this third stretch-the-summer strategy crystallized.
Traditions with a Twist
Teacher wisdom comes into play once again as I employed a strategy that teachers use in so many ways—that of co-mingling the familiar (traditions) with the new. This strategy allows teachers to help students build upon their comfort zones, use confidence to stretch, and recognize that these familiar actions were also new at one time. Teachers are really wise that way (and so many other ways for many other blog posts).
By mixing tradition with a twist into new events, we can expand our “familiar.” There is, as I rediscovered this past weekend, both a comfort and an anchor in approaching events like national holidays with at least some tradition. It helps calibrate expectations, a huge downfall for many of us when it comes to holiday events. Flags were proudly out, our local parade took place, and other annual events nestled neatly on our calendars. These familiar events did help to stretch the summer in that expectations were within accurate range, the faces we expected to see were happily present, and the events mostly ran true to anticipated form. Our village’s parade, which rarely tops 15 minutes in length, was consistent in both form and content, making it a welcome and comfortable tradition.
Yet, we also changed it up this year: we observed the parade in our flag hats instead of marching alongside a decorated car. This year, we didn’t spend two hours before the 15-minute parade to put our car through an extensive hair and makeup routine with ribbons and streamers while anchoring a jumbo bear, equally elaborately festooned, atop the car’s roof. This year, we had a new tradition instead—a lazy, delicious brunch with extended family. We chose to do what we wanted to do, not what we felt we must.
Because It IS All About the Kids
Teachers, with such limited time to accomplish so very much, taught me yet again, to choose wisely. Teachers always make their kids their top priority, as did I as different options came into focus. The kids drove the agenda even dividing up so each could opt in or out of some of the festivities. I even carried my “Because it’s all about the kids” cooler bag with me. More than a time or two, seeing that message helped several moms around me to keep their cool in more than the expected ways! A friend carried her “My kids are my primary priority bag.” Both bags turned heads.
As we bounced from event to event, I noticed that this long weekend was a lovely mix of the traditional familiar with the crisp and new. Many of these new events are sure to become new traditions going forward. Some “new” events were actually non-events. For this first time in many years, our family actually skipped the fireworks. We didn’t lug chairs and walk to the nearby public beach to not find a spot to sit. Instead, we hunkered down for a cozy movie night instead. When we heard the booming sounds of the fireworks, I glanced at the window wondering for a fleeting second if I felt wistful for those explosions of color. I decided I wasn’t and turned back to the movie. Our youngest elected to bounce outside just before the finale to peek between the treetops, discovering a birds-eye view we’d not noticed we had before. Hmm. Something new from nothing.
Halfway? No Way!
The July 4th weekend seems always to be a marker, creating the illusion that the summer is half over, but in reality, we’ve been out of school for exactly one month only and while many before-back-to-school events do begin to rev up in about a month from now, for many families, school does not officially begin for at least six to seven more weeks. As I often say when I’m savoring something, be it a vacation or a piece of pie, “more to go than have already gone!” Of course, the flip side of this works equally well when the task is less pleasant, “Less to go than have already accomplished.”
So, this third strategy, mixing tradition with a twist (parade attendance but no marching) with the new (weaving in a robust new walking route into the weekend) made for a rich even if speedy holiday break.
The integration of these first three strategies, being present, stretching the days by getting more sleep, and mixing traditional with new events have created an intriguing braid of awareness for me. I’m beginning to better recognize that even though the calendar will indeed progress at its own designated speed, what I specifically choose to do with time can significantly influence how quickly it seems to progress. Gee, that sounds like there’s a scientific equation hidden in there somewhere, but it’s really more of a gut thing. It just feels right.
For many teachers, this weekend also marked the end of summer school. For others, summer school won’t wrap up until mid July, leaving one very rare and precious two-week window to relax and savor the summer before in-service activities begin for many teachers. I’d venture to say many teachers are looking forward to this precious sliver of time; hopefully, the present is equally appealing.
There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of being present and rested enough to recognize it. When the little band at our parade played the national anthem, I waved my little flag, and smiled. The true meaning of this celebration, freedom, and choice was definitely not lost on me. I was so grateful to be there—really there. That was a lovely way to savor this summer.
Stay tuned for Strategy 4 and please share your weekend discoveries below. At Teacher Peach, hearing from teachers helps us to continue to hone our work, expand our understanding, and make amazing connections that we treasure.