In less than two weeks, the New York State Fair will open its annual twelve day run and families from all over New York and beyond will flock to see the incredible new improvements to the fair facilities, ride the latest gravity defying roller coaster, see the exhibits and animals, and gorge themselves on a smorgasbord of fried foods and lemonade. It’s a tradition that we all look forward to, and a great opportunity for parents and their kids to share some time together.
The closing of the State Fair also brings an end to summer vacation, time for the kids to put away their sandy flip flops in favor of new sneakers and get on the bus for a brand new year of school. This summer’s end ritual is a time when all of us with school aged children fall back into the routines we gleefully abandoned in June. It’s time to set the alarm a little earlier, time to pack lunches, time to make sure the library books make it into the backpacks and that the homework planners get signed so your child can get a sticker from her teacher.
Our Central New York summers are short, and we cherish the time to be outdoors, to swim at Green Lakes, hike around Clark Reservation, and attend a Syracuse Chiefs game or go pick up fresh sweet corn from a roadside stand. Not bogged down by homework and sports practice, dance lessons and violin practice, we have more time to spend with our families, seeking and finding joy in achieving the perfect toasty marshmallow to go on our s’mores, and seeing all sorts of crazy shapes in the puffy clouds above hammocks strung between backyard trees. Summer is a blissful, magical time that we snowbelt dwellers crave the other nine months of the year.
It is also a reminder that just as summer comes and goes away again before we have even finished saying a proper hello, childhood too slips away despite our protests to stay, please stay little. Please don’t ever stop saying psgetti, please always want to clutch your well worn teddy bear to get to sleep at night. Years ago, I read a card that said something to the effect of “We had a very disappointing experience with our children. They grew up.” That resonated with me then, and it does now as my own children continue their march onward.
The time we spend with our children is never wasted time. They challenge us, they help us to grow, they fill our hearts with love we never knew we could feel. They are watching our every move, absorbing, taking it all in. Show them that they are your priority – put the phone down, turn off the tv. Read together, play catch together, sit on the sideline beaming with pride and cheering them on. Take them for ice cream even if they barely touched their green beans at dinner tonight. Learn “the new math”, which is really not so different from the old math, while you help them with homework. Help them build the best baking soda and vinegar volcano to ever grace a fourth grade science fair. When you make time for them, you are making time for you, too. We glorify the concept of “busy”, but the reality is all of us can make the time for the things that really matter to us. Budget your time – return the emails after your kids are asleep, instead of meeting a client for a drink after work, how about meeting for breakfast after the kids are on the bus? The saying goes “the days are long but the years are short” – make the most of this precious, fleeting time with your family and you will reap the rewards in every single aspect of your life.