Ever year when school resumes in the fall, I count down the days ‘til summer vacation begins. I can’t wait to get the kids back in my nest, to allow our days a rhythm without alarm clocks, scheduled activities and homework. To let their sleepy brains awaken over a plate of syrupy pancakes and watch their creative energies emerge ready to paint, draw, build Lego villages, or simply lie on the grass and look for shapes in the clouds.
When I think back on our summers past, I picture myself as a mother duck, the kids my little ducklings, following wherever I lead, rejoicing at places we arrive, delighting in activities I suggest, cheerfully eating foods I provide, and nesting in for sleep when I say the time is just right.
I assumed this summer would be just like all the others. Yet as soon as school let out, I quickly learned that 10 and 12 year old ducklings don’t necessarily want to follow Momma Duck’s lead anymore.
In fact, they don’t really like Momma Duck’s food or bedtime or chores or quiet walks in the woods or fairy house building or puzzles or coloring.
What pre-adolescent ducks do like is TV and Wii and hanging out with friends and sleeping late and going to bed late and complaining and loud hip-hop music that ruffles Momma Duck’s feathers and iPods and computers and arguing and pecking at each other to the point where Mama Duck’s feathers just might fall right out. At the same time, the ducklings still love ice cream cones and big bowls of popcorn and movie night, water balloons, and wiffle ball and swimming, and curling up next to Momma to listen to stories.
So it seems this summer is about Momma Duck learning to let these growing ducklings sometimes take the lead, or at least swim by their sides, all the while, keeping the nest soft and inviting, allowing the ducklings a safe and familiar place in which to return to rest.