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Spent My Summer Vacation Essay

At the beginning of every school year, there tends to be the assigned essay regarding “What I Did Over my Summer Vacation.” If the essay isn’t assigned, the topic still tends to be discussed either openly in a classroom or between classmates. For children and teens with a parent undergoing treatment for a serious illness, this assignment may feel insensitive. These children may not have had the summer that they expected with free time, vacations, trips to the zoo, or the opportunity to go see a movie. Summer vacation has a tendency to feel carefree and rejuvenating, but this simply doesn’t happen for some children.

When a parent is experiencing fatigue or recovering from procedures or surgery, they may not have the energy to engage in the simplest tasks, let alone plan and participate in an activity that requires extra energy. Many times, women needing reconstructive surgery from breast cancer schedule these surgeries over the summer so that they can recover prior to the new school year when schedules become busier. Family finances may be affected by the high cost of medical care and there may not be funds available for special trips. The side effects from certain medications can cause exhaustion, nausea, insomnia, or a change in temperament. These typical side effects keep the parent focused on just getting through each day with no ability to engage in additional activities. Many times older children take on more responsibilities that include caring for their younger siblings which prevents them from having friend time.

In anticipation of the new school year, parents or children can inquire whether or not the student will be given this assignment. The parent or student could advocate to write what they had hoped their summer would have been like or use the assignment to teach others about what it’s actually like having a parent with a serious or life-threatening illness. Giving the student the opportunity to adjust the assignment to their particular life circumstances could give them some control over a situation that the entire family has little control over. The assignment could end up being therapeutic and cathartic instead of stress inducing and isolating.

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When I was growing up, during the first week of school, we were always assigned an essay titled How I Spent My Summer Vacation. My children have never been in public school, so I don’t know if this is still the standard “first essay of the year.”

With a new school year just around the corner, I started to wonder what my kids would put in their composition if they wrote one on this theme.

One thing I know for sure is that their paper would look nothing like mine did. I used to dread having to write about my summer because mine was always so boring, so simple.

Sure, I went to the beach every summer, but I grew up outside of Philadelphia, meaning everyone went to the shore. But we went for a week (two when I was a bit older), at the very end of summer. We didn’t spend weeks at our own shore house. My family did not have a lot of money, so the majority of my school vacation was spent at home.

Oh how I envied those children who had paragraphs describing their Disney vacations, their plane trips to see relatives, full summers spent on farms or at the shore.

Usually, for my kids, their essay would be full of school stories, because we school year round. Most of our summers are spent indoors getting some hard-core studying done.

Instead of taking a long summer break, we take time during the school year to relax and explore. This summer was a bit different. We have still been doing school, but not as intensely.

If they were to write a How I Spent My Summer essay this year, they would most likely include:

  • a family trip to Colorado
  • a week at Animal Kingdom Camp
  • classes at the Microsoft Store, including Office and Minecraft
  • a Disney stay
  • exhibiting at a Coin Show
  • focused learning on art, history, music and geology

Thinking about it, my children could write the essay I desperately wanted to write when I was a kid. But as I look back, I wonder who truly had the better summers.

What seemed so boring to me then seems somewhat magical to me now. I would love for my kids to spend entire days bicycling around town with their friends. To have rousing kick-the-can games going on in the street until late at night. To spend days on the playground, playing hopscotch and running lemonade stands.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my life and the fact that my husband and I have been able to provide our kids so much of what we didn’t have growing up. I wouldn’t give any of that up. But sometimes I miss the simplicity of my childhood. The freedom that I was able to have, that because of the world we live in, my kids will never experience.

Each of us has a summer essay from past to present. What’s your summer essay?

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