This Family's Summer Was So Wonderful, They Lost Track Of Time And Missed The First Day Of School

"It was the summer of absolute freedom, and there was never another summer so wonderful."

My four kids couldn't wait for school to be out for the summer. On the last day of school, they used poster paint to paint our station wagon with "Schools Out! FREEDOM at Last!" They tied balloons and streamers to my car, and we had a one-vehicle parade to the school. When I picked them up later that day, we came home and had a bonfire in the back yard where they burned all their school papers. While the kids were roasting marshmallows over the fire, I washed the poster paint off my car.

Unfortunately, it didn't come off. The next day, I took my car to a place that detailed cars, and they told me I would need to have the car repainted. Okay, we weren't off to a great start for the summer, but the new paint job looked great. It was only a small setback.

My son Troy, who was ten, said he wished he could stop time and that summer would never end. My other three children—ages nine, eight and seven—agreed that summer should last forever. I told them we couldn't stop time, but we could ignore it for three months. I took the calendars off the wall and put them in a drawer. I took off my watch and put every clock in the house in the drawer with the calendars. I turned off the ringer on the phone and decided I would check the missed calls only twice a day, only returning the important ones. I was surprised that I never received any "important" calls, and eventually I started checking my calls only once a week. Then the battery on my phone ran down, and I just threw the phone into the drawer with the calendars and clocks. I discovered it was easy to live without a phone glued to my ear, and that none of the calls that formerly ate up my time and peace of mind were important.

We had stopped time and silenced the outside world. The feeling was incredible.

Every night, we hauled quilts and a basket of snacks up onto the roof and lay up there and watched the stars.

In July, we celebrated the Fourth of July. We decided to celebrate Halloween on July fifteenth. We carved watermelons like they were pumpkins, made costumes, and ran around the yard pretending to be ghosts, witches and pirates. On July twenty-fifth, we decided to celebrate Christmas. We set up our artificial tree, decorated it, baked Christmas cookies and watched a marathon of Christmas movies.

We watched old, silent movies with Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin on TV. They always seemed to end in a pie fight, which looked like great fun. I filled fifty paper plates with whipped cream, and we had a pie fight in the yard. We were all completely covered with whipped cream, so we used the garden hose to wash off.

We learned we could rent any musical instrument for ten days for five dollars. We discovered we couldn't play the trumpet, violin, flute, guitar, banjo or bagpipes. Our family had no musical talent at all. That's a good thing to know.

We learned that if we drew a chalk line on the sidewalk it would hypnotize a chicken.

Our neighbors were often amused and confused by our antics. We were called "weird, eccentric and odd."

It was freedom. We ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, and got up when we felt like it. My daughter made a twelve-layer chocolate cake that looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it was delicious.

It was our summer to explore, invent and do amazing things. There was a Renaissance Fair, and we dressed up in costumes. We rode an elephant and a camel at the fair. My sons engaged in mock swordfights with knights, while my eight-year-old daughter got to be a princess and was rescued from a dragon (two men in a dragon costume).

Every afternoon, I'd throw a quilt under a shade tree, and bring a picnic basket and a book. The kids would lie on the quilt and eat while I read classics like How to Eat Fried Worms, The Secret Garden, and Lord of the Rings.

Then one day, I was hanging my laundry on the clothesline when I saw the school bus drive by. I wondered if the bus driver was making a trial run on his route before school started. If he wasn't making a trial run, that would mean school had started—and my kids had missed the first day.

I dashed into the house and called my neighbor, who informed me that school had started. Her two children had just caught the bus.

I woke up the kids and told them that, if we scrambled, they could be at school by noon and only miss half the first day. Or we could just forget about the first day, and they could start tomorrow morning. I told them we could make a fast trip to the mall and buy all the things they needed to start school.

They thought about it, and then Troy said, "Or we could just wear our old clothes, use our old notebooks and supplies from last year, and have one more day of summer. We can go shopping on the weekend."

They agreed they'd start school a day late so they could have one more day of our endless summer.

And that day was the best day of all. We packed a lunch and went hiking in the woods. We sat by a little creek and ate our lunch. A deer watched us take off our shoes and wade in the creek.

We had a campfire and roasted hot dogs for dinner. We hauled quilts and a basket of snacks up onto the roof, and lay there watching the stars and talking about what school was going to be like. The next day, we'd get up and eat breakfast, and the kids would go to school. I'd miss them terribly.

"This was the best summer ever, Mom. We'll never forget it," Peter said.

He was right. We never forgot our perfect, endless summer.

We had spent three months without going to the mall, using the phone, or knowing what time or day it was. We'd had the best three months of our lives, and except for renting the musical instruments and paying to ride an elephant and a camel, we'd spent less than $200 on entertainment.

When the kids were finally back in school, and the teachers asked how they spent their summer vacation, my kids would say they fought dragons, rode elephants and camels, celebrated Christmas, threw fifty pies at each other in a pie fight, hypnotized a chicken, and saw billions of stars.

It was the summer of absolute freedom, and there was never another summer so wonderful.

This story is from Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Crazy Family 101 Stories about the Wacky, Lovable People in Our Lives © 2018 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.

Cover image via  Ampol sandee I Shutterstock


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