I still feel the school year rhythms deep in my bones, after all these years.

My daughter is committed to being unruffled, about life and especially school. Ready or not, she’s not showing the slightest worry about high school freshman finals this week. Which I guess means I have to own the panic I feel.

Of course there are other things on my mind: three more years until she’s off to (something), only 7 more until the younger one is. My elementary school parenting ends on Friday! This whole gig has flown by and shows no sign of slowing. If that’s not cause for a little panic, I don’t know what is.

But I also know my testing butterflies are a deep imprint of my school years. For decades I woke up terrified from dreams of not-ready-for-the-test or at-school-in-only-my-underwear, long after life taught me there are many worse embarrassments than being caught with your pants off, and that I’d survive them.

The coming of summer as a kid was such a crazy mixed bag. The testing and finishing and grades, the freedom and warmth and swimming, the unknown of camps or trips or the boredom of no plans. Tearful signing of yearbooks, unsure when we’d see each other again. It might be just a few weeks, but sometimes it was… never again, when someone moved away or changed schools, or, one year, died.

As a parent summer means the kids are suddenly ours, full time! My answer to that was camps and trips and plans, though the pandemic broke that cycle (broke us all a little) and the kids stopped being up for so many different things, so we’re sailing into a summer with a couple camps, some plans, and a lot of unknowns.

A major improvement to my trip assessment algorithm that I’ve implemented this year came from my husband, who told me he learned at the University that you never solicit feedback on a class (or any other experience) while it’s going on. Ask the last week of school, and you’ll hear every small complaint our brains churn up all day long. But wait until it’s over, and we either have a more complete assessment, or our selective memory has kicked in.

This worked recently on a family trip to the beach. In real time, these are an endless collection of problems, complaints, and disappointments, avoided or ploughed through, layered onto the anxiety of running the production. (Can’t we just have a good time?) But give it a week, and it might turn out to be the best day ever.

I suspect many of our best days ever were filled with little anxieties I can’t recall. Hopefully it’s a more accurate picture, cleared of the endless chatter of our monkey minds. But even if it’s a bit of revisionist history, I’m ok with that too.

Here’s to a summer full of best days ever!