Many parents find it difficult to spend time with their kids in the summer months. When I was much younger, my parents worked a lot over the summer. Sure, we went on vacations and visited the beach on weekends; but two weeks on a remote island meant that I wouldn’t see my parents much for the rest of the summer.
My sister and I were left to entertain ourselves and wander outside during the hot summer months. One game we used to play was called “Find the Four-Leaf Clover.” My backyard was covered in the brightest green grass, and we used to spend hours combing for that one special leaf. Most of the time, we were not successful, but one day I got lucky. I found a four-leaf clover. My eyes grew wide and my heart pounded. I couldn’t believe that I was the lucky one. I showed my sister, who was ultimately jealous that she wasn’t the lucky one, and then I ran inside to show my mom. My babysitter stopped me before I made it up the stairs. “Your mother is busy,” she said. “You can show her tonight.”
I was about ten years old at the time, and I did not understand. I knew my mom was working, but couldn’t she spare ten seconds to see the clover? I tried to explain how important the four-leaf clover was, how it was something that I had hunted for day after day, but I could not find the right words. My babysitter told me to go back outside and play. That evening, I decided not to tell either of my parents about my discovery. I never found another four-leaf clover again.
A few years after that, my mom quit her job. Another year or two passed, and my dad developed the ability to choose most of his own hours. By the time I was fourteen, my summers had changed drastically; instead of magazine-reading babysitters, I spent my days with attentive parents, and I strolled through ancient cities instead of partaking in leaf hunts in my grassy backyard.
There was just one problem: I was a fourteen-year-old girl. While I would never say no to a vacation on a beautiful island or in a foreign country, when I was at home, I was not that interested in my parents’ company. At fourteen, I wanted to go to the beach with my friends and see movies with boys. I did not want to build sand castles with my mom and learn how to grill with my dad.
Now, when I look back on my life, I realize that I had a wonderful childhood; a better one than most people my age. Yet, sometimes I think about that four-leaf clover and wonder what it would have been like to share that moment with my mom. While many parents would love to be able to take off from work and spend the entire summer with their children, unfortunately that’s not a viable reality for most working adults.
It’s essential to use your free time wisely and make the days that you can take off really count. Go on vacations, play at the beach, visit family members, and look for four-leaf clovers. Most importantly, don’t lose the summer months, because kids don’t stay kids forever.