The kids are exhausted – when they’re one small squabble away from a meltdown, I know it must be nearly the end of another half term. But this one’s been different. There was so much to grieve a year ago (my post at the time is here: Feeling the Grief for what Coronavirus has stolen from us), but little by little, the joy of the summer term is returning, and we’re getting back some of the best things about it once more. Here are three things that have made our summer term 2021 (so far) so special.

 

Bike Riding

It’s always a pain to get them out in the mornings, organising safety helmets and how they’re going to carry all the school gear, but it is so worth it – what we lose in time at the start, we more than gain on the trip to school. With the bubble restrictions and our own confusion about who could store what where in the autumn term – not to mention the weather – we didn’t use them at all, so they hadn’t ridden to school in nearly a year when we dusted down the bikes this term. The little one was dead sure he couldn’t remember how to do it and that it would all end in disaster, but he soon found all that confidence again, and zips ahead down the road. It’s better in so many ways than dragging their reluctant feet along in the morning, and it certainly focuses the dog’s mind as well – he abandons the sniff-fest on every tree and lamppost we pass, and tries to keep up instead!

 

Parties and Playdates

We started with a couple of playdates in the garden before indoor restrictions were lifted – it was quite cold at times, and one evening we all had to take emergency refuge under the gazebo as an unpredicted raindump landed on us – but it was totally worth it to have people round again, and to see the kids having fun with friends outside school. It felt so strange to be arranging them again, but it was brilliant to hear them playing together, and to serve up a big platter of snacks and drinks for the hungry hordes to descend upon.

And birthday parties! The little one brought home an actual paper invitation to an in-person, real life party and I was so happy I could have cried. It felt like a blast from the past, a pleasure that they’ve been denied for so long – and he’s so excited to be going to his friend’s garden, where there will be games and a bouncy castle and food and fun. So simple, such a big highlight of their worlds before, so much missed…and so lovely to have back.

 

School Trips

Aren’t they one of the best things about summer term? Being with your class somewhere that isn’t school, loving or putting up with the weather, eating your packed lunch together on the ground, and doing something really exciting. Missing out on these memorable milestones was one of the things that made me saddest about last year, and while it’s not exactly as it would have been – the oldest’s residential has turned into a daily drop-off instead – it’s just brilliant that schools are doing what they can to give the kids those experiences that stay with you for life. Perhaps the next stage is the return of the bus journey – I can still smell those coaches from my own childhood…

 

Before the pandemic, how could we have imagined a summer term without these things – playdates, picnics, school trip adventures? But it happened…and it’s made me so grateful for them now they’re returning. There’s more to look forward to in the next half: sports days and performances (no parents, but the kids get to have one nonetheless), and maybe even some school fundraising events. Time will tell the effect this last year has had on our young ones, but it feels like some of the summer term joy is finally creeping back in – and if the danger raises its head again as the darker months approach, at least they’ve had this bright highlight of fun and sunshine in 2021.

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