Slowing Down Summer


Can walking backwards, a time machine, or a handwritten note actually slow down summer and delay school from starting? The answers may surprise you, but who came up with such imaginative ideas may surprise you even more.

With only a week or two left of summer vacation, school is about to start, and kids around this fair town are suddenly realizing … well, school is about to start.

Last weekend, after clothes shopping with their mom, our two granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline, are already trying to stretch every minute out of this “unlocked down” summer.

But they aren’t the first kids who’ve tried to slow summer. My three brothers, The Sister and I did the same during those seven years spent growing up on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo. Here are just a few examples of what we did back then, and what our granddaughters are doing now.

Whenever we went school shopping with Mom, we all walked as slowly as possible, and Twin Brother Mark even walked backwards. Our slow motion/backward-walking tactic only worked for a day though. Mom realized what we were doing, and then yelled at us to stop.

Seems not much has changed since we were kids fifty-five years ago. After returning home from back-to-school shopping, our granddaughters walked backwards into the kitchen followed closely by a frustrated mom who was struggling to carry about twenty packages from various stores. They scurried over to give me a big hug before ending up in the living room on the floor playing with their dolls.

Their mom yelled, “Now you two hurry? You girls have been walking backwards all day!” I smiled. Their mom sounded just like my mom did back on Flamingo.

While playing Barbie vs. Army Men, I asked the girls if they would like to play another game. “If you could, what would you do to slow summer down and delay going back to school?”

Little One, the eight-year-old, immediately started to stack boxes, move chairs around, then ran to the bedroom to get a sheet. She said she was building a time machine and, when finished, she would get inside, go back to the start of summer and do it all again!

Helping with the epic futuristic build, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that my three brothers, The Sister, and I had been there, built that, and it didn’t work.

All during our great time machine build, her little sister, Sweet Caroline, was busy drawing over at the art table — at least that’s what I thought she was doing. But I was wrong. Our seven-year-old wasn’t drawing or working on a way to slow down summer.

It took another ten minutes to finish the time machine and another five after that for Sweet Caroline to finish what she was doing. I must admit, she had come up with a brilliant idea, an idea even us kids on Flamingo Street had never thought of.

She handed me the paper she had been working on, then crawled into our time machine and started to move the makeshift dials around to travel back to dinosaur time. In her best handwriting, she had written on the paper the following note: “To all moms and dads. School canseled. The prinspal.”

Parents, if you have kids walking slowly through stores, backwards down the aisles, or building an epic time machine in the living room trying to slow down summer, tell them not to bother. I have a handwritten note from the “prinspal” that school has been “canseled” this year.

Good luck to all those kids out there this school year, and good luck to all you teachers. And at Christmas break you find you’d like a few more days of vacation, I know just where you can find a slightly used time machine.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]