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The bell tolls for me

As far as I know, the final school bell has rung in every school in Bureau County. For area students, the thought of homework is a million miles away; getting up early to catch the school bus isn’t going to happen; and the daily routine of school is just a memory. That’s right. Like Alice Cooper once sang, “School’s out for the summer.”

I got into a traffic situation the other day over by Lincoln Elementary School in Princeton. Normally, I try to avoid getting mixed up in all the hoopla of students boarding buses, walking home or waiting for their adult to pick them up after their school day. Not thinking though, I turned onto South Euclid Avenue, and the next thing I knew, I found myself waiting for quite some time as children were leaving the building and boarding school buses to take them home.

Most of the children carried large bags or backpacks with them — clearly filled with the remnants of their school year. While I don’t think the staff who was monitoring the mass exit that day would mind me telling you they looked a bit bedraggled, I couldn’t help but notice the expressions on the kids’ faces ... Truly, it was utter bliss.

Do you remember? I do.

Even though I basically enjoyed school during my younger years, stepping off that school bus on the last day of school evoked a freedom that is difficult to describe. Even though I knew there was never going to be any Mickey Mouse ears in my summer kingdom, it didn’t matter. Summer vacation meant days of self-generated adventures, independence, reckless abandonment and the opportunity kick structure to the curb and concentrate on fun.

What I wouldn’t give for a good, old-fashioned, three-month summer vacation! You?

Years ago when we had tried my grandmother’s patience to the umpteenth degree, she would mutter the following phase ... “I wish I could just get in the car and keep on going ...” It was usually followed with an innocent question from us like, “Where would you go Grandma?” which was answered by a simple, “Anywhere!” Those exchanges happened more than 50 years ago, but finally ... today I understand.

Can you imagine jumping in the car and just driving? Going anywhere yet nowhere? Fleeing? Leaving everything you know behind and not looking back?

OK, even though we knew there was no chance of Grandma going anywhere — predominantly because she didn’t have a driver’s license, we knew that if she did leave for a while, that she would always return. But there’s something so sweet, so enticing about a summer vacation filled with no obligations, no deadlines, no worries ... a full, three months of freedom from it all.

Don’t misunderstand. I love my life and everybody who I choose to allow in it, yet still the idea of a carefree, three-month vacation sure seems appealing to me. Just the thought of it makes me smile. I even find myself daydreaming about the possibilities. That’s kind of nutty, isn’t it? But I guess if I can’t really do it, I can at least dream about it, pretend, imagine. Which is exactly what summer should be all about ...

While there aren’t many of us who can kick our obligations to the curb for three months, I think we should challenge ourselves to carve out as much time as possible to enjoy this upcoming summer season. Like myself, I think many are so caught up in our day-to-day routines that we don’t allow ourselves any freedom to remember what summer should be all about ... fun! And the next thing we know ... Old Man Winter will be knocking on our door.

So let’s do it. Let’s pretend our own adult school bell has rung. Let’s concentrate on having a fun-filled summer — one of reckless abandon and self-generated adventures. I think we deserve it ... You?

BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com.

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