You must forgive my absence here. You must. You may. You might. I’ve been enjoying a fine spring break, and in spite of the fact that school has resumed, it feels like I’m still on it.
You lose spring break as a childless adult. All the breaks – Christmas, summer, spring. You’re expected to work through these, and it’s really not fair. Even child-ed adults aren’t given much leeway here, as is often evidenced by the guy on the phone at the beach with his kid, working when he’s supposed to be burying a child up to his neck in sand. Breaks are critical, but I believe it’s spring break that offers the most to any parent who’s halfway paying attention.
For starters, spring break is a manageable amount of time. Summer break is a bit relentless. You switch up your routine five or six times — playdates, camps, lessons, travel — and it’s never enough. The days stretch onwards towards Labor Day like a Depression-era bread line, hungry and grumbling, needing work. Christmas break is sullied by the consumerism of Christmas and the empty pursuit of getting stuff. Kids spend the first half in high anticipation of what will be received, the rest trying to make sense of what they got and what they didn’t. Parents exhaust the duration pleading the case for giving.
Spring break is the pure break. There’s nothing attached to it, except maybe Easter, which to the pagan family means brightly colored eggs and a few marshmallow Peeps. I’ve never been included in a seder, but from what I can tell, Passover seems alright, too. Beyond that, it’s simply spring, with it’s renewal, rebirth and rejoicing. Maybe that’s why MTV made such a successful show about it.
In the MTV Spring Break, renewal is accomplished with bacchanalian rituals that seem like they might be fun but mostly don’t fit into the parental lifestyle. So we turn to the garden, the beach, the mountains. We take what is truly spring and tie it into a crown and set it atop our fat heads.
In our house, this means the planting of tomatoes and strawberries. The bees are swarming, and Otis’s preschool teacher has talked us into purchasing a hive and joining the community of urban beekeepers, while Otis himself has talked us into buying him a child-size beekeeper suit. The bees have yet to arrive, but we’ve been told to expect a swarm soon. Building the hive, planting tomatoes, harvesting jasmine and roses and lilies that have exploded into bloom fill these days with a promise of industriousness and hope for what we want our lives to be. We take some time to focus on the beauty that is given to us by the change of the season and we try to find harmony there.
The parental spring break may not be a river of blue alcohol and casual sex with strangers from Ohio, but it ain’t bad either.