With just days before school starts, my granddaughter and her friends are working on their bucket lists. Don’t worry. It’s things they want to do before summer is over.
Smarty Pants (my granddaughter’s chosen nickname) is a list maker. Lists, habits and routines are part of her persona. She keeps lists of what books she’s read; shows on TV she wants to watch and prepares a full itinerary each time she has a play date.
Bucket lists are harder, she explained to me, because summer is so short. I laughed as she told me this. Her face was painted bright red and pink, though she had forgotten. She asked what was so funny. I told her she looked like clown. She shook her head with great disdain and told me she was “clearly” a cat.
A bucket list for summer. Clearly I have under-reacted.
As a baby boomer, I have only been easing into a bucket list myself. Mine includes things like getting on a plane again, learning a new language and having a conversation with Tom Perrotta about The Leftovers. My husband’s might include riding a motorcycle again (because it has been forbidden). Or becoming a yard ninja, whipping every plant and tree into shape without being caught (again, forbidden).
Some of these might actually happen. Regardless, the list beckons us to a better life. (Or a more enjoyable one.) No regrets, right? YOLO and all that one life to live stuff is concomitant with bucket lists.
I doubt that Smarty Pants thinks like that as she writes her swan song for summer. To date, she has 27 activities. Of those, six involve food; three involve water and all of them involve someone taking her somewhere.
I told her that a bucket list item is something you have never done. She told me that she is only talking about summer.
On her list: going to the beach, the library and a friend’s pool. Having a sleepover with one of her friends, playing putt putt golf and going to a pizza place where there are games.
Summer’s leave is eminent. I agree. But what is so final about starting back to school? It will still be August. It will still be hot. She will still have her friends around her. What is really over?
Then I remember one of the great perils of adulthood: Not living in the moment.
Being so fixed on what we are hoping to accomplish. we forget the value of ordinary days. A 24 hour canvas for living life. For Smarty Pants that canvas is the fullness of summer. I get it, just as we drive past number three on her list.
And though Smarty Pants has 26 to go, I checked off two of mine in less than 20 minutes: Re-experiencing childhood at summer’s end. And having frozen custard with a cat.
What’s still on your bucket list this summer? C’mon. Let me hear it.