Planning for the final days of summer

Ijust registered my son, Silas, for third grade. Going back over the paperwork for school and picking up a list of required school supplies was a bit of a shock for me. I'm not usually a person who says something like "this month just flew by!" but now I can't stop thinking about all the plans I had for Silas this summer that I never got around to.

In June, I was overwhelmed by the thought of Silas being out of school for three months. I couldn't imagine how I was going to fill his time on a day-to-day basis without allowing him to watch exorbitant amounts of television.

But I had this vague idea that we would spend days out at Emigrant Lake, that I would brave at least a weekend of camping on behalf of my son, and that we would take some sort of mini-vacation, though my bank account tells me I can't do much more than that.

I imagined lazy summer days spent eating ice cream downtown, swimming in the Lithia Park reservoir and tender moments helping Silas practice tying his shoes.

Well, we all know what happens to the best-laid schemes of mice and men. In fact, several mice were unable to make any plans at all this summer because of the fact that my cat would proudly bring its planless corpses to my porch during the night. My plans didn't die dramatically, they just went awry.

We didn't spend time on a bench eating ice cream because it turns out that Silas is probably lactose intolerant. We went to the reservoir in Lithia Park, but nothing even close to swimming happened. I am a big wimp about cold water. As soon as I put my feet in the water, I jumped out in shock and stared at the people swimming farther out, wondering if they simply had a different tolerance to the cold water or if the numbness had spread to their brains.

Silas played a little more than I did in the reservoir, but swimming was definitely minimal even for him, although he does enjoy bringing a shovel and playing in the gravel and dirt mix at the edge of the water.

I probably should have taken Silas out to Emigrant Lake, except that the idea of lying on rocks until you get hot enough to get in the water and step on mysterious objects that are either painfully sharp or scarily mushy could never draw much of a response from me.

So far, the only mini-vacation we took was about as mini as those "fun size" candy bars — exactly 24 hours in Portland.

Finally, with the end of summer in sight and feeling more than just a little guilty, I promised Silas I would take him to the Oregon Coast this weekend. Silas begged for his grandparents to be included so his big summer vacation this year is staying for two nights on the coast with me and Grandma.

Fortunately, Silas is not comparing me with his friends, whose parents have taken them to Mexico, South Africa and San Diego. Silas is thrilled about our upcoming weekend getaway. He loves the fact that he and his grandma build structures out of driftwood on the sand, and that I have told him we can probably cook hot dogs over a fire.

He's a little dubious about the idea of visiting a place called The Prehistoric Gardens, which features life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs in a Pacific Northwest rainforest setting, but I'm pretty sure he's willing to give it a try.

I wouldn't say Silas has low expectations, he asks me almost daily when we will go on another "airplane trip," and just happens to have the ability to bring up Disneyland in almost every conversation.

But at least he's satisfied with his summer, and with the experiences I have been able to provide to him.

Zoe Abel is packing her trashy magazines, beach toys and fleece jackets in preparation for an Oregon summer at the coast. You can contact her at

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