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Longing for the life of a child

It keeps getting earlier and earlier every year. Kids everywhere start to get a sinking feeling that the fun time is almost over. It starts to seep in and slowly take over.

Look out kids. It's time for the back to school rhetoric to begin.

I've been out of school for years now, and I still can't escape the hollow feeling that summer is almost over. It doesn't matter that I really don't have a summer in the purest since of the word, now that I'm in the working world.

Come to think of it, I miss summer. I get vacation of course, one that I choose to take during summer, but there's no more sleeping until 10 a.m. and frolicking around in the spray of a sprinkler all afternoon.

I remember when my best friend would come over, spend the whole day playing imaginary games and making up new sports, and then he would call his parents to see if he could spend the night. Whatever happened to those days? It seemed at the time we would never be too old to spend a day like that.

The problem is, all my friends "grew up" before I did. I knew the value of childhood, but before long I had no one left to practice that long-lost art with. These days we have too many structured activities that we wheel our children off to every day of the week.

There's tee ball, karate, piano lessons, tennis lessons and soccer games all taking up precious play time. The problem is that kids aren't allowed to use their imaginations any more. Free time outside of activities is spent in front of video games and endless children's television programming.

So in a sense there really is no summer for children anymore, not like I knew it anyway. But at least they have the time to take a break from school and enjoy childhood.

Maybe not everyone gets a feeling of dread when a new school year approaches the way I do. But I can't help feeling a slight pang of remorse for the end of the magical time of year when friends, imagination and a cool glass of lemonade are all you need for an unforgettable day.

Now the harsh world tells you that work, eat, sleep and paying a few bills every now and then are all that's important. Unfortunately, there's little to no room for imagination in the world of adults.

So it's kind of strange that I feel sad when summer is coming to a close. I don't have to go back to school. I never left work. Maybe I just feel the loss for the children.

I just hope they appreciate their childhood while they have it. I know I did. But I also know there's not much worse than regret over losing something you never knew you had until it was gone.

Web posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004

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