6 Things to Do Before the Summer Ends

A family rides in a convertible
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I confess that back-to-school checklists are my own secret way of anticipating the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

This year, our school got into the checklist thing even before the moms. They sent the list of necessary school supplies in the same packet as the report card. They mailed a special checklist of inoculations that sixth graders must have.

They suggested checklists for the bus route to school. Checklists of office equipment every mom needs (a scanner??). They even sent a checklist for getting the kid back to a school-night bedtime schedule even before he had a chance to sleep in.

Funny, I'm not going to prepare for back to school doing any of those things. In fact, I think I can do almost everything for back-to-school in about three hours. What I can't do in three hours is to make the summer memories I want my son to have before the summer is over.

So my 11 year old and I sat down and made our own back to school list.

Here are 6 things to do before the summer ends:

1. Collect mosquito bites. My son likes to put on his worst shoes and tramp through a local creek. He calls this "hiking through the woods." I call it collecting mosquito bites. There isn't enough Off in the world.

2. Sleep under the stars. Some people call this camping. I am not a Marine. I am not a soldier. I do not camp. But I am not against sitting outside with my family, talking until the stars come out and the kids get so sleepy that they beg to sleep outside (usually in a tent of their own making). You can't do that during the school year.

3. Spook yourself silly. My son and I like to watch Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel. One of our favorite episodes is about Black Aggie, a statue hidden in a courtyard in Washington, D.C. The urban legend says that her eyes glow red at the stroke of midnight and that if you spend the night in her arms you will be crushed in her giant hands. Cool! We must find her -- in broad daylight, please.

4. Live at the pool. At our local pool, you get a wristband every time they check your pass. You are supposed to tear them off when you leave the pool. Pete has his entire collection on his arm. Before the end of summer, he wants to fill his entire forearm. This might happen.

5. Bodysurf at the beach. The pool is one thing. The beach is another. While my sailor loves the ocean, he does not love the beach -- too much sand. So before he gets home from deployment I want to cut out of work with my kid and body surf until the lifeguards go home. (This is one of the major advantages of Navy life -- you always live near an ocean.) Nothing makes you feel the freedom of childhood like the rise and fall of an ocean wave.

6. Steal away in a convertible. When my husband was a boy, he thought kids who rode around in the back of convertibles were rich. Now he knows they are mostly wind-blown unto deafness. Still, now that we have a ragtop of our very own (circa 1988), no summer is complete without riding around with the top down, blasting Jimmy Buffet and looking for an ice cream cone. If you don't have a convertible, borrow one, rent one or put down the windows and sunroof and pretend. Because the summer is ending so much faster than we know.

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