Summer is the new Hell

Summer is coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

You knew there would come a time when those in your charge would be too old for daycare but still too young for gainful employment. You don’t live in China. Did you forget? All they can do now is sit around and bug you while you try to get something productive done for the next three months.

This isn’t like when you were a kid. It’s no longer considered “healthy” for people to sleep until noon, then plop themselves down with a bowl of cereal and reruns of Hogans Heroes and Gilligan’s Island. You were in full control when you made the decision to work from home eons ago, ostensibly to be with these little hooligans through their formative years. And, yeah, you reveled in the opportunity to turn the working mom model on its head. You may have bragged some. It’s not above you.

You now get to be concerned about the “summer slide,” worried they’ll unlearn two full semesters of useful information in the next 90 days. You’ll also need to make sure they get the proper balance of:

–       Outdoor time. While avoiding potentially predatory weirdos in park bathrooms

–       Structured activity. But only if paired with the free time needed to cultivate the synapses necessary for creative thought and

–       Team sports. But without the stress of competition so heavily ladled on by other people’s swim team moms and little league dads, and especially

–       Reading time. To balance out screen time they’re not supposed to have too much of in the first place.

You get to toss out the structure everyone’s been trying to get used to again since Spring break, instead parsing out your days into chauffeuring detail. Transferring kids from one activity to another, hoping to God there’s a table at the coffee shop next to the pool that has an outlet – you might be able to squeeze in a full 50 minutes of work at a stretch.

Next time, if you let me tie it around your wrist, you won’t lose it. Now stop crying. Maybe your brother will let you hold his too.

Your workout time is also going to have to come in 50-minute chunks, if you get in any at all. If you carry a banana in your purse, you won’t have to worry about whether anything at the drive through works for your diet. It doesn’t. That won’t stop you from ordering a bacon cheeseburger at the last minute because that banana doesn’t look nearly as appetizing as it should and you forgot breakfast. And lunch. And you have four minutes to get one kid to robotics camp and another across town to biology camp (and, shoot, you need to add a trip to the store in there because you forgot his allergy medication).

Summer, I dub thee the “Eighth Circle of Hell.” You know: the one where they show movie trailers that spoil the ending, and someone’s brought a baby, and you got there too late to do anything but sit in the very front row and look at the screen in a position that’s going to give you a crink. That and you’ll be burning in fire and brimstone for eternity.

But in between all of this there will be those moments that you know will make you pine for summer when it’s gone and you’re tired of browns and greys and wet and cold and just want to break out those Daisy Duke shorts you forgot show the dimples in the backs of your thighs.

Between the chauffeuring and forgetting the banana in your purse, there will be moments when it’s light late into the evening, and cooler on the back patio. The kids are happy to leave you alone for the moment (actually only because they’ve broken a living room lamp you won’t discover for another month) and you have quiet time to chat over a beer with your friends.

There will be outdoor concerts and cool morning runs before anyone is up where your only company is the half dozen or so hot air balloons hovering over the valley. There will be late nights where you’ll let the kids fall asleep in front of movies of questionable rating and tiptoe over them the next morning getting your coffee and everything will be quiet enough to read the whole paper.

How many days before mom notices I forgot to bring my toothbrush camping?

There will be ripe, red tomatoes and gazpacho that makes your friends exclaim. There will be mojitos with fresh mint and the occasional ice cream sandwich for which your kids were willing to chase after the truck. There will be fireworks, big and small, set off too late in the evening, and too many days before or after the holiday. There will be no school zone speed limits to slow your commute to that early meeting you’re always late to. There will be flip flops and pedicures and sundresses and sun kissed skin.

There will be an entire week of date nights while the kids are off at resident camp, from whence they’ll return filthy and smiling, with homemade candles and carvings, and stories about barfing on the bus which will make you even more happy they were able to experience that without you.

These will be the reasons you’ll forget and forgive summer, you with the pitifully short memory. And when it’s time to buy school supplies again and pack lunches and load people on the correct bus and ask them about their first days, you will celebrate with only half a heart, having gotten used to the lack of structure, and having just begun to enjoy yourself, even though those people of whom you’re in charge are starting in with the “Mom, I’m BORED.”

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