Originally created 08/12/01

Summer's end comes too soon

You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.

- Mark Twain

Around my house we'll remember it as the shortest summer ever.

My second-grader returned to school last week almost a month earlier than I used to at his age.

I cannot honestly say he was happy about the prospect.

I tried to break his apprehension by taking him past his school the day before class began - you know, sniff out the place, check the playground improvements, get used to it again.

"Dad," he asked me as seriously as a 7-year-old can, "when does summer end?"

I gave him a variety of answers - seasonal, spiritual, traditional - before admitting, "It ends when you go back to school. Always has, always will."

He didn't answer. He just sighed.

He had a short summer, but I've got to tell you, he certainly made some memories.

It will be the summer he went to Disney World with his mother and took a cruise on a boat.

(Dad stayed home earning money to pay for these junkets.)

And it was the summer he left his old man a Father's Day voice mail so poignant his grandfather recorded it and made copies and played it at family gatherings.

It will be the summer his indulgent father let him buy a videotape movie about sharks (creatures loved by 7-year-olds) without reading the rating label.

Only when the family gathered around to watch it did the indulgent father realize the "blue" in the movie Deep Blue Sea referred to the language.

(This example of cinema has now been hidden and will be returned to him when he celebrates his 25th birthday or joins the Navy, whichever comes first.)

It will be the first summer he had good friends move away. I told him he would stay in touch, but I know from experience that probably won't happen.

It will be the summer he broke up another team's no-hitter by lining a single to right while almost no one in the stands was watching.

"What's he doing on first?" one coach asked me through the fence.

"Figuring out how to score," I said with a shrug.

Minutes later, he did.

It will be the summer he began to focus on his hair and how it looked, spending minutes combing it in front of the mirror and getting it just right ... even though his parents could never figure out exactly what "just right" was.

It will be the summer he saw every children's movie that came to town - Jurassic Park III, Spy Kids, Dr. Doolittle, Cats and Dogs, Atlantis.

Some of them - Jurassic Park III, Spy Kids, Dr. Doolittle, Cats and Dogs, Atlantis - he saw twice.

When does summer end?

When you're 7, much too soon.

Always has, always will.

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344, or bkirby@augustachronicle.com.


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