Without any prompting from me, my children have started keeping a summer journal. Short little excerpts detailing their daily activities or a few lines about really important things like finding heart-shaped rocks and puffy clouds that look like elephants and hermit crabs that are small and feisty. Deeper thoughts have emerged like wondering who they’ll have as teachers next year or if grade 7 will be as difficult as everyone says it is or trying really hard to decipher if, as Sarah McLachlan sings, love really is better than ice cream ( honest to goodness, we’re debating this very thing.)
I don’t correct their spelling or punctuation or grammar. They’ll eventually learn proper editing techniques, but they might not always have the drive to write. They seem genuinely enthusiastic about it and I don’t want to stifle their creativity by making them pause for corrections and proofreading. That’s never been the purpose of journaling anyway. I want them to write simply because they have something to say. Because they enjoy it. Because they are passionate about ideas and concepts and things and people. And mostly because some day, far from now, they’ll read these entries and think of a time that was uncomplicated and carefree. When the most pressing thing on their minds was whether to have waffles or fried eggs for breakfast.
One of the very best gifts they can give themselves is being able to read their story in their very own words. From their own perspectives. One day, they will smile as they look back at their sweet cursive handwriting and recall all of those little things that would have otherwise been forgotten. World Cup predictions. Best friends. Stories about soccer games and camping trips and making strawberry pie. And those are important memories. They remind us that, even when life felt dismal, we were part of a circle of people that loved us. We took pleasure in simple things like picnicking in the park or meeting our friends for ice cream on a hot summer evening. Making homemade popsicles and having lemonade stands and beach days where we jumped over big waves and buried ourselves in the sand. It proves that we were content even when life wasn’t perfect
The opening line in one of Niko’s entries is, Today is a new day for me! Can you believe that? Today is a NEW DAY friends. Full of new possibilities and insights and experiences. And every single day for the rest of his life will be a brand new day.
I hope they spend the summer writing their little hearts out. Writing about every single beautiful thing. About the feel of the salty ocean on their bare skin. About what it’s like to lose an important soccer game. About the first taste of moon mist ice cream and walking barefoot in the prickly grass. About water balloon fights and spontaneous lawn games and collecting sticks for campfire smores. Some day, when the responsibilities of adulthood threaten to take away these little morsels of truth, these journals will be here.
And they will be filled with all the wonder and awe and amazement of childhood.
P.S A bit off topic but I’m sharing a recipe for a delicious salad dressing I made for a dinner party we had on the north shore over the weekend. It was a nice change from the olive-oil based dressings I normally make and I think it’s the perfect dressing for summer salads. We’ve even had it as a chip dip and also as a sauce over chilled salmon. So versatile and so good.