The Summer of Change


For a change, this story isn’t about me. It’s about you, which means it’s really about me. Confused? Don’t be. It’ll all make sense at the end.

If you have children, you are keenly aware your daily schedule is about to dramatically change during these summer months, and for those grandparents out there who live near the grandkids, your schedule could also.

For eight hours a day, five days a week, the kids have been in school, but now they are out for the summer, and someone must look after them. Work has to be done and bills still have to be paid, so who’s that someone gonna be?

I know what some of you may be thinking, and the answer is no. Even though I would love to, The Wife said I can’t start Big Papa’s Summer Camp, so it can’t be me. But perhaps I still can help you keep your kids busy by sharing the summertime daily routine we will be following at our house. (See, I told you this story is really about me.)

Get out!

First, letting our girls sleep in as long as they want isn’t going to happen. Instead of their normal six o’clock wake-up time, I’ll let them sleep in an extra hour. (I’m not heartless, you know.)

Just turning ten and eleven, they can fix their own breakfast, brush their own teeth, get dressed, and fix their hair while I pack the car. We have places to go and things to do. If you want to survive the long days of summer, getting the kids out of the house is most important.

Lessons learned.

After an hour or two hike in the woods, we’ll return to the house and start the next chapter of our day – school. Yes, Dear Reader, we will be doing one hour of schoolwork daily. And by we, I really mean the girls.

And if they complain, I have a foolproof rebuttal, “One hour of school is better than eight hours.” I’m sure they will see the wisdom in that statement. It’s almost as brilliant as where I decided we’ll eat lunch each day.

Big Papa’s Hometown Kitchen.

Last week The Wife and I went to a local restaurant and ordered two hamburgers, drinks, and a bag of fries. After paying $35, we quickly decided that all lunches this summer will be at our house.

Art time.

With morning exercise, schoolwork, and lunch done, an art project is next on our summertime schedule. Together we’ll paint something or make something for an hour or two. We need to get all of the Christmas and Teacher Appreciation gifts for the next school year finished. With soccer practice almost every night, there’ll not be any spare time when school starts back this fall.


During the heat of the afternoon, we’ll escape to the basement until it’s time to start dinner. While the Girly Girls build their forts, interact with Barbies, or play schoolteacher and classmates, I’ll also be playing.

The basement is where I pour epoxy, make coasters, and charcuterie boards. There’s only nine weeks of summer, and I have lots of gifts to make before school starts.

School starting will bring big changes for everyone both young and old.

For Little One and Sweet Caroline, our two granddaughters, this summer will bring about great change, but the biggest will come this fall. For the first time, when our Girly Girls go back to school, one will still be in elementary school and the other in middle school.

And even though she’ll be surrounded by five hundred other children, for the first time in her life, Sweet Caroline will be in school all by herself. I’m sad about that, but change is undeniable if they are to grow up.

Our Little One will be a young lady.

I can see her changing daily; the girl who once chased after ducks trying to pull their tail feathers and laughed as a butterfly landed on her button nose, is slowly fading away.

The little girl is being replaced by a beautiful young lady. The person she is becoming is starting to shine brightly, and I couldn’t be prouder. Yet, I still long for the little girl who looked up to us for everything. Can I be both happy and incredibly sad at the same time?

In a blink of an eye, Little One and Sweet Caroline will be gone — gone off to start their own lives with their own families. The Wife and I will be left with only our memories of them, and thousands of pictures and videos of the wonderful life we’ve had the honor of sharing together. I’m sure there will be many phone calls and video chats, but I’m also sure it’s not gonna be the same.

I wonder how many parents out there are facing similar situations as their children transition from elementary to middle, middle to high, high to college, or waving by as they graduate and drive away. (See, this story is really about you, too.)

Growing up changes everything … except one thing: the never-ending love we have for our children and grandchildren.

If they’re to grow up, our Girly Girls must find a door of their own. I just hope they remember where their first door is still located — and know they are always welcome to walk back through it.

And perhaps when they do, we can read bedtime stories of some of their childhood adventures to their children. Summertime adventures they had while growing up, behind our door, in a loving house not so far away.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]