A biting wind blows outside as we all sleep in this September morning. The lake level has risen from last night’s thunderstorm. Before breakfast, we look outside to see, to our delight, that brand new snow has settled on distant Alpine caps.
“Snow!” the children cry, “Hurrah! It’s winter, it’s winter!”
“Not quite yet,” I tell them. “We haven’t had autumn yet.”
Can it be that time has slipped away so fast? If being a parent has taught me anything, it’s the swiftness of that time, the sudden changing of seasons. Growth and renewal, every day. And childhood is the shortest season.
Sometimes you want your kids to grow up instantly and do things for themselves. But then you look back and see how much they’ve changed and matured already—and then you wish to slow time down.
Blink, and you’ll miss a childhood. Rush, and you run past life.
This week, I’m trying to hold on to that summer magic a little longer, because it’s over soon. I wished I’d been more present, in mind and attitude, listened to my kids more closely, held them tighter, taught them more. Yelled a lot less. But I tried my best, and that’s what matters.
When their dad had days off from work, he made the most of it with the kids. I’m so glad they have him for adventures! We visited castles and cannon fortresses, rode airplanes, boats and buses. We got caught up in the excitement of powerful thunderstorms and hauled rocks to build dams across the river.
Counting, with the kids, all the things we did together as a family this summer, our list went way beyond 50. But I’m listing here all the ones that were free—because it’s really true: those kind are, by far, the best.
- Watched firework shows from our balcony
- Went hiking and boulder climbing in Val Masino
- Trekked up Monte San Bernardo
- Baked our own bread every other day
- Learned to swim without floaties
- Learned to speak Italian
- Fed ducks and swans
- Watched the Giro d’ Italia bike race from our house porch
- Had double rainbows
- Made Lego Man Fossils
- Baked cookies, lemon squares and brownies
- Had barbecues with friends
- Went to birthday parties
- Explored centuries-old churches
- Played Memory and board games
- Watched Masha & Orso, and lots of Peppa Pig
- Did potato stamp paintings
- Grew a giant sunflower
- Did gardening—planted mint, basil and lemon
- Learned to read more words
- Learned about famous inventors and explorers
- Made natural “paint” from red rocks
- Drank mountain-spring water at 1,000 meters high
- Went to street fairs and flea markets
- Played football
- Made and drank summer Mocktails
- Built a stone house
- Watched many full moons
- Made sand pies and sand castles
- Went fishing
- Went hiking with sheep
- Went biking along the lake path
- Played Legos
- Played Vero Construct, a vintage toy dad had since he was our age!
- Created cool stuff with Arduino and made electrical lights and sounds
- Played card games
- Bounced on the trampoline
- Ran through sprinklers in the lawn
- Watched lots of spectacular sun sets
- Did plenty of stargazing
- Rode dad’s boat on the lake
- Swam in swimming pools
- Drank hailstorm ice in our drinks
- Aperitivi with mom and dad (free food with their drinks!)
- Made and flew paper airplanes
- Had lots of bedtime stories
- Skyped with Opa and Oma
- Sang songs and danced
- Flew on an airplane to Brussels for five days (sponsored)
- Made a cutout Travel journal book about our adventures
“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”–Neil Gaiman