The Rockwood Files: Final days of summer break

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Today is a perfect summer day. The kids crawled into bed with me around 8 a.m. and we lounged around reveling in our collective laziness until 9:30 or so. There was no rush to get going, no reason to get dressed. We have nothing to do today until three in the afternoon, which is when the kids are scheduled for haircuts. Other than that, the day is ours to do with as we wish.

Even though work is piling up in my home office and I’ll likely be up until midnight or later catching up on it, I don’t mind because, to me, this is what summer break is about – the vacation from structure and the absence of “rush, rush, rush.” I loved my own childhood summers and the delicious freedom to go at my own pace.

Back then, the summer break from school seemed much longer, and, technically, it was. I remember being out of school by early to mid-May and not going back until the first of September. This year, my kids weren’t out of school until after the first week of June and they’ll be back in class by mid-August. We’ve already bought our backpacks, and the aisles at Wal-Mart are overflowing with new pencil boxes and Elmer’s glue.

Knowing the back-to-school rush is right around the corner makes me think about these last few weeks that much more. I’m done trying to cram in as much day camp entertainment and activity as possible. Now we’re just going to coast and indulge in whatever down time we have left. We’re going to sleep late when we can and snuggle under the covers while watching The Price is Right. We’re going to play at the pool and come home with wrinkled fingers and toes.

Kids have varying needs when it comes to down time, but I can’t help but think, overall, most kids aren’t getting as much as they probably need or want. Even though I like the reliable routine that school provides, it also seems like a relentless march of activity speeding us toward the end of the year. Between school and sports and after-school lessons in music or dance, it’s all we can do to just keep up. A few months from now, when we’re running in five different directions at the same time, I know I’ll look back on today’s lazy morning and wish we had just a little bit more of that.

Here’s hoping you and your family spend these last few dog days of summer in a cool place enjoying a leisurely pace.

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Here’s a quick update from last week’s column on the newest member of our family, “Percy” the persistent stray cat. Nobody appreciates a leisurely summer day more than Percy, especially now that she’s a housecat. Even though she was nothing more than bones covered by long grey hair when she found us, she’s making up for all those missed meals, so much so that we should all buy stock in Meow Mix immediately. She eats constantly, and I can tell when I pick her up that she has steadily gained weight this past week.

The veterinarian gave her the necessary shots and said, despite her scrawny physique, she seems pretty healthy. And now that she’s no longer starving, her personality has begun to emerge. She loves a warm lap and gets a mischievous twinkle in her eyes and waggle in her step when she’s in the mood to play.

The kids have been helping me feed her and clean her litter box. In fact, 3-year-old Kate thinks she has personally “potty trained” Percy and congratulates her on doing a good job every time she sees the cat’s “deposits” in the litter box.

I’ve always considered myself a “dog person,” but I’ve come to appreciate seeing rockwoodheadshot2010compressed1.jpgPercy sunning herself on the floor by the window. It makes the place seem a little cozier, a little livelier, and even more like home.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, and feeder of one persistent cat. She’s also a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.