When I was a kid, it felt as though I took a deep breath the day school started and didn't let it out until the final bell on the final day. I was a nervous child, a thinker, an analyzer of problems both real and imagined. So, I never felt I fit in.
I've learned that most kids feel this way. It's a familiar pain that binds us together. Especially those of us who write middle grade, I think. We fritter about, sifting through memories of those years, uncovering the golden nuggets that become touchstones in our stories. And as much as it pains me to have watched, and continue to watch, my girls walk through this time, I know there is little else in the way of character building like farting in the middle of fifth grade reading-time and having the whole class laugh. Including the teacher.
So summer was a time of unwinding. Not only could I fart in peace, but my family also let out their collective breath. We camped. And fished. And spent lots of time outside the house with other people, so I was safe. In every way. I made art and rode my bike. I collected sea glass and watched my sister hunt for sand crabs. Endlessly. I swung from tires and shouted gibberish and ding-dong ditched and played kick-the-can. We fried smelt the same day they were caught and ate until we had to roll around in the beach sand clutching our bellies. I can still smell the campfires and the Coppertone.
I try to be my summertime self all the time now. She's a hoot. Plus, I'm pretty sure she's the writer.