Summer — it means so many things to so many people, but to children it’s like three months of Christmas morning. Remember those days? I am pretty sure I do.
I remember the summer days of my youth, the days on Lemon Road when I would bounce out of bed each morning with the sweet smell of a long summer night still clinging to my hair, the remnants of fireflies sticking to my hands and the leaves of the willow tree tangled in my pajamas.
I would run down the steps and to the back porch to inspect the many jars of insects I had collected the day before to see if any had survived the night, only to discover again that someone had freed the creatures from their impending doom. I frequently tortured my brother — who I was convinced was the culprit — only to discover years later that my father had an important nighttime ritual that I had unknowingly imposed upon him.
I remember late-night summer pajama parties with our neighbors, the parachutes hanging from the tall maple trees, sparklers and fireflies in the evenings, soggy bathing suits, the nightly clang of the ice cream truck and the roller skates strewn across the driveway each and every morning.
Those things I remember so vividly. But what don’t I remember? I don’t ever, ever remember running into my teacher.
Now I find this an incredibly odd thing, because inevitably and surprisingly I run into the children in my classes and from my school all the time. I don’t do it intentionally, mind you, but apparently I’m just one lucky lady. I’ve always said that I love running into the families and children that we come to know and love each year, but once in a while it happens at a most inopportune time. (Fortunately the parents laugh right along with us, because they know that teachers are actually people who don’t really sleep at school.)
Like the time I went to wing night and after enjoying four hot, hot wings and dripping the gooey (but delicious) sauce all over my white T-shirt, I came face to face with Jack. “What happened to you?” he asked in horror. “You are messy!”
And the other day at the club pool when I ordered a “spicy tomato” juice drink with the accompanying celery and olives that arrived with the bright red straw at the exact moment when three young ladies ran over to say hello to the kindergarten teacher. “What kind of juice is that?” they asked excitedly. I was kind of thinking that seeing the teacher in a bathing suit would be the exciting (or horrifying) part of the exchange, but apparently I was wrong. It was the vegetables.
And thank you State College Spikes for providing not only a fun and incredible venue for this area (if you haven’t gone, it’s a must do) but for also providing another great spot for the kids to spot their teachers enjoying all that the park has to offer. The sweaty hair sticking to your teacher’s face after a glorious day in the sun does scare a 5-year-old, in case you were all wondering.
At the end of the summer I’m convinced that all of the children I’ve run into are shocked and horrified about seeing me in the many stages of sweaty, summery fun. But then I remember.
I remember that my own summer memories are filled with wonder, excitement, roller skates, sweet summer ice cream and the magic of fireflies.
And not one of those warm memories ever involved my teacher.