The end of the school year came fast and furiously last month and in New York, the kids were in school until almost July so we are still easing into the reality of summer. June is always an intense month filled with endings and beginnings. It marks the ending of a grade, of a school year, of a class and the beginning of the carefree, fun days of summer.
Like most parental rights of passage, I found this time this year very bittersweet. I was incredibly excited for my son that he was finishing his school year and that it had been a good one for him. I share his excitement for all things summer: fireworks, ice cream, traveling, beaches, swimming, late playdates, s’mores (he really loves those!) and summer reading. Yet all the while, I also felt a bit wistful how about fast the time is going by and quickly my son is growing up.
Much like I do when filming kids for Portraits that Move documentaries, I decided to do a quick interview with him, asking about his feelings on summer in the hopes of opening up a conversation about this transition. What I found was that he was present, thinking forward and open. He felt curious, positive and at ease. The conversation with him was brief but joyful.
Q: What do you love most about summer?
A: Traveling to places like Cape Cod and Maine because I like spending time with my family. When I go there I get to see all my cousins.
Q: How does summer feel different from the school year to you?
A: Well, I miss my friends and I don’t like learning as much as learning while you are doing something fun and summer is a way better time to do that because there is no homework.
Q: What will you miss about school?
A: That my friends are there - I miss them already - that they help me a lot and I love them and I don’t see them a lot in the summer.
Q: Do you have any goals – is there something you really want to do, learn or get better at – this summer?
A: I want to learn more multiplication. And I want to learn about rocks, and birds and nature.
Q: What is your favorite summer tradition?
A: Going to Cape Cod and s’mores, of course.
After this conversation I felt less emotional. Conversation and questions always soften the intensity of any moment. Our children offer us the gift of living in the present moment. It is up to us how often we allow ourselves to live in that moment with them. I hope to do a great deal of that this summer with my son.
Speaking with our children, asking questions and really hearing their answers is such an important part of our job as parents, and my job as a filmmaker. This summer, I want to be mindful of creating space for conversations with my son. And I know it will make our summer all the more joyful, and memorable, no matter how quickly it seems to go.