Sarah Simpson Column: Good deeds save the day

Is it fair to call it the dog days of summer? I feel like it must be.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac ( says the “Dog Days” are based in astronomy and notes the traditional timing of the “Dog Days” as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending Aug.11, “coinciding with the heliacal (at sunrise) rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.”

I’ve always thought the dog days of summer meant the time where all the kids get bored and all the parents are watching the calendar not-so-patiently awaiting September, the first day of school, and the return of some semblance of order and routine.

I’m not sure if it’s related to my son going to kindergarten in September or not but this last little while has been… tricky around my house. Summers are notoriously difficult for children to get to bed because it’s hard to convince a kid who can’t tell time that it really is bedtime even though the sun’s still shining.

For my family, summer is full of departures from routine in the form of after-dinner beach/river/ice cream jaunts or pre-bed playtime with the neighbour kids and this year even a couple of unexpected overnight road trips. After a couple months of chaos everybody is feeling it. I know I am. My husband came home from work early the other day and I had a nap. I woke up three hours later. I’m exhausted. The kids are too. It’s not the best combination.

Recently we woke up with the sun (because even if your kid stays up two hours late, they’ll still wake up extra early in the summer. It’s a rule I think.).

The day got off on the wrong foot. There was crying, defiance, and a general lack of patience on all parts. It was already hot out and it was still early in the morning.

We didn’t have anything planned for the day which was a big mistake on my part but around 9 a.m. my husband called. He’d forgotten his work bag at home. Yes, we’d bring it to him.

When we arrived my husband was greeted by three solemn faces.

He smiled and thanked us for his bag then calmly said to the kids: “Guys, it’s still early. You can turn this day around.”

He was right.

Next, we drove to pick up my step-mom from Maple Bay and shuttle her back into town. She told us a story of leaving her delicious leftovers in a bag in somebody else’s car the day before all the while forgetting to take her bag out of the trunk of my car. We drove away only to turn around five minutes later so she could retrieve her bag from my trunk.

She smiled brightly upon seeing her grandkids again and then gave us three freshly picked cucumbers from her garden. Score!

On the way home we stopped at 7-11 for Slurpees. There’s nothing like a Slurpee to turn a frown upside down.

When we saw my husband’s favourite flavours available, we got one for him and went back to the office to surprise him.

Unlike the hour before, when we arrived for the second time, he was greeted by three smiling faces.

How’d we turn it around in such a short time span, he wondered?

Good deeds, the kids explained. They’d figured it out on the drive back to the office.

We brought their dad his bag which made him a little happier. His smile made us smile a bit. We shuttled their grateful grandma and then returned her bag and that made her smile, too. That made us smile a little bit more. She gave us cucumbers. That made us smile even bigger. Then we went to get Slurpees and bringing one to their dad made him very happy and that made our smiles that much bigger.

We had turned the day from bad to good in less than an hour and all it took was thinking about others and doing something small to make them smile. What a great lesson to learn just ahead of back to school. In fact, I think we could all use a refresher on that one.

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