Thursday, 4 September 2014

Endless (End of) Summer

The Endless End of Summer

We walked together hand in hand
Crossed miles and miles of golden sand
But now, it's over and done.
Cause that was yesterday
And yesterday's gone.

The pop song "Yesterday's Gone" by the otherwise forgettable Chad and Jeremy - late entries to the 60's British Invasion - is about the end of a summer romance, and seems appropriate as we enter September.

 As I type these words, I am sitting in my office in Paris, with an eye out the window on a somewhat grey day.  We have just recently returned from our two week congés (summer holidays) in Maui.  Our son today starts his first day in CM1 (the French equivalent of grade four).  This year, he will be in a French language school (his CE2 was in an international school, with most instruction in English, so this school year will be a big change for him - and us).

Our Nine-Year-Old Petit Écolier
Preparing for a New School Year
Time really flies.

Not only did the summer seem to come and go in the wink of an eye - every summer I can remember from childhood fits this - but indeed, our little child is, well, not so little anymore.

Here is a photo of him a mere three years ago, as he was entering grade one.

(Back in the US, our son was a child model, and appeared on the cover of a Toys-R-Us flyer).  

Just two short years ago, on our last trip to Maui, our son was keen to make sand castles - it was his favourite thing amongst many.  We have taken his little plastic, purple sand pail and red shovel with us on all of our beach trips.  These tools have been to Maui (five times), Waikiki, Aruba, Barbados, the Canary Islands).  

On this trip, however, he was far more interested in body surfing in the waves, and only once asked to make sand castles.  

It's a small, but to me, noticeable change.  There is a famous passage in the First Letter of Saint-Paul to the Corinthians:

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things

Now obviously, a nine-year-old child is not a man, but still; it makes me a bit sad to think of putting away the sand bucket and plastic shovel.  No; sad is probably a bit strong, but wistful, nonetheless.

Time was, when "we" made sand castles, it was mostly me making vaguely shaped piles of sand, and our son joyfully crushing them.  He progressed to helping make the piles, helping make the castle-shaped heaps, and finally, him making the castles mostly on his own.

Now, it seems, his sand castle days appear at an end.

We will return again to Maui in due time, and I suppose he then will not want to play in the sand at all; I suspect at some point, he will want to spend more time there with others his own age.

Ultimately, he will want to stop coming with us.

It's the natural way of things, of course, for your children to grow up.  Now, as the summer of 2014 ends, I find that I am especially grateful for this summer - perhaps the last such glorious time - where my little guy still wanted to hold hands with his mother and me as we walked on the sand into the setting sun. 

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