I am not certain as to where the phrase “Dog Days of Summer” originates. I could utilize Google to find the answer, I suppose, but forgive me if I rebel against the ability to know everything immediately. That would take from me the opportunity to define the phrase the way I like. And I think that, from a parent's perspective, August is called the “Dog Days” because every day feels like seven years.
Over time, I have learned that it is perfectly acceptable to admit that your children need more than you can offer. I can be a Dad. I can’t be the social structure of friends that my son and daughter need to learn to navigate. I can’t be a rival, from whom they can learn how to deal with adversaries and opponents.
Over the course of the summer, I will play outside with my kids, we will take day trips, see a movie or two — we will attempt to enjoy what Michigan has to offer for summer fun. On rainy days, I will also bore my kids with lectures on philosophy and geography (two subjects our schools neglect). There will be swimming, bowling, trips to the park, sleep-overs at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
But by mid-August, it is time for them to get back to their school lives. They need greater social challenges. They need to study science, math, literature, art, music, English, foreign languages, history, and grammar. They need structured active time at P.E. They need unstructured active time at recess.
Sure, sometimes August can be tiresome, when every kid in the neighborhood congregates at your house demanding popsicles and unreceived parental attention. August can also be quite arresting, however, when you linger into the evening, playing outside just as the sun begins to dim. Not worrying about bath times or bed times.
It will be good for my kids to go back to school. A part of me looks forward to resuming our usual schedule, work and school and football season — and the gloriousness that is fall in Michigan.
But my son is only eleven once. Last week he poked his head in the door as it was getting dark— the kind of dark where the sun’s final embers are all that remain — and said, “Dad, can I stay out a little longer? We’re catching fireflies.”
I poured myself a pint of Oberon and watched from the porch, breathing in the summer evening. If that day lasted seven years, I wouldn’t have minded.