In case you are wondering, no, I am not blushing at the moment. Currently my face is red due to my annual beginning of summer sunburn, and boy does it feel good. Unfortunately, unlike my sister and cousins with perfect skin tone, my epidermis is either red, or pink. I waffle between those two shades most of the year long, and that's one of the many genetic crosses I have to bear.
Today is our first official day of summer. We've been to three parks in two days, totaling at least six hours of fun. That's how we like to kick things off—going to the park for free, and taking a variety of unhealthy processed snack foods. We've been to Nottingham park off of 88th, and the cool park with fountains off of 92nd and Sheridan, as well as our own neighborhood park. And we've been fortunate enough to share the fun with good friends, celebrating another year gone by.
All three of our kids are thrilled it's summertime. I was worried there for a minute about Will though, due to his gloomy mood on the last day of school. When we dropped him off at the curb he said, "Well, I guess I'm not going to see any of my friends now that summer is here". I reminded him we were going to the park in four hours with his BEST friend, to which he fist pumped a "YES!"
I love the last day of school. I run around trying to get ahead of chores, so that we can start the summer off with fun, rather than work. Yesterday when we came home with arms full of backpacks and notebooks, we headed upstairs to the craft room to put things away. For nearly an hour, Faith and Will showed me papers and reports they'd done the last few weeks of school, as well as notebooks full of poems and stories from the year. I loved reading over their work and seeing what great students they have been. They both love to learn, and watching their little brains fill with information about life is exciting.
Jack's last day of school was a bit tougher than Faith and Will. For the first time in his life, he had finals. Yes, in 7th grade, you take finals. And he had three of them in one day. We were very nervous about how he was going to do, and asked him the night before the tests if perhaps he should study a bit more, rather than watching Batman, the Brave and the Bold. His reply, "I'm done studying. I know everything I need to know by now". His level of confidence was unsettling, however, we decided it was his right to choose whether or not he was ready. We'll see…
The best part of the first official day of summer was an evening bike ride. Every year it's the same thing. We all head out to the garage and begin rummaging through helmets to see if they still fit from last year. Once we've found all those, we start untangling bikes from each other. This usually involves Neosporin and a few minor injuries. Next, we begin the process of pumping up about ten or so flat tires. This part of the bike ride takes the most time, and Billy knows he only has a certain window of time to pump them all, before the complaining begins. By the time he's done, every child's head is dripping sweat into their eyes from wearing their helmets so long while sitting in the sun waiting to get moving. About now, at least two of the children need to go back in and use the bathroom. Billy also has to go back inside and change into shorts because he's worked so hard pumping up tires that there's steam coming off of him. Finally we are ready to go. Billy and Will always take the lead, because Will's the most wobbly. Jack takes the middle cause he needs boundaries, and Faith and I bring up the rear cause we know that being last doesn't mean you've lost.
Every time we set out from our driveway, I feel a sense of pride. And not the egotistical self-glorification pride, but the kind of pride that comes from knowing God has allowed me to be part of a really special family. We ride down the street, remembering how to balance, coast, and enjoy the view. We are having our own little Repenning Parade. The neighbors smile as they see our informal procession, and I am happy to watch my children navigate the way, knowing they are enjoying this experience as much as I am.
As we rode together, I reminisced about the last year and all we have gone through. Jack got through his first year of Jr. High, with a lot of hard work and determination. Faith completely rocked 4th grade with grace and humility, and Will got through 2nd grade while learning to stand up for himself even when it was scary. I became a Nurse. And Billy held all our hands as he led our family with love. Summer is here now. Let the fun begin.