Tomorrow is our last day of summer vacation. On Thursday, Lucia has her first day of kindergarten. Next week, Greta begins the three's class at preschool. Although we have Labor Day and many school holidays coming up, it still seems like tomorrow is significant: the last truly free day we'll have for a while.
I've been acutely aware this week that the summer is ending, and acutely aware of how much things will change once Lucia is in school. Don't get me wrong: I'm not mourning the end of these three months of unstructured time, and once Greta starts preschool next week, I'm going to relish the quiet, productive solitude. Still, I am very protective of the girls' playtime--guarding it even when it drives me crazy to be with them all day, every day, hands-on, responsive, mediator/cook/activities director. Their play has ascended to new levels this summer, and they are completely in tune to each other and the robust imaginary world they return to again and again. They are interested in anything and everything, ready to engage at a moment's notice with something new, or something familiar they pull down from the shelf. They are never bored. They move from one activity to the next effortlessly. They collect acorns, run to the swings, have their ponies swim in the wading pool, ride around the driveway on their scooters, arrange fairy furniture around the trees.
Today, after quiet time (which they spent building with Magna Tiles, playing with ponies, and coloring mandalas), they came downstairs and somehow stumbled upon the Quirkle game I picked up at a yard sale earlier this summer. They dumped out the tiles and immediately began sorting and arranging them by shape and color--they'd been en route to get a treat but forgot all about it as they worked.
Later this afternoon, we went to the pool, and though I'd planned to get home to cook dinner, I couldn't bear to make them leave--by 6pm, the pool was nearly empty, and they were immersed in a game involving their diving rings, "pool Barbies," and various buckets they'd found.
And they're always together. That's the thing. They're free, and they're together. I think Lucia will be swept away by kindergarten, thrilled by the world of school; I think she'll happily and easily return to her creative play whenever she's home, but she'll be too busy to actively miss it when she's gone. But Greta--of all of us, I think Lucia's launch into kindergarten will be hardest on her. She holds her own in their playing--she has an imagination beyond description--but she definitely relies on Lucia to direct their days. She's going to be at a loss, for a little while, until our new routines settle in.