When I was young, it felt like every summer was pretty much the same. I spent a ton of time reading by the pool, diving off the diving board, and rambling around outside.
These days, each summer feels pretty different because my kids evolve so much, so quickly.
When my kids were babies or toddlers, we’d set out the kiddie pool or a sprinkler and I’d invite a mom friend over. Or we’d all meet at a playground in the morning and the moms would chat while we hoped that the kids would play hard enough to tire themselves out, then we’d eat a picnic lunch at the park before heading home for what we moms all hoped would be a long afternoon nap. We’d strap the kids in and wish each other luck that any children who fell asleep immediately would sleep through the transfer from the car’s infant seat into the house. In fact, just typing that made me want to call it the Transfer, with a capital T, because I remember thinking a lot about “achieving the Transfer.”
When the girls got to be grown-up preschoolers and toddlers, the town suddenly became a big deal. There was relatively cheap town camp that the girls were super-excited about, and most of the excitement came from the presence of Big Kids who were older campers and counselors. At the beginning of the summer I’d be full of anticipation at the prospect of a few free hours in the morning, but I’d gradually realize that the time between dropping the kids off and picking them up evaporated quickly, with just a bit of chit-chat in the parking lot and maybe a work out and a shower or a grocery run. In the afternoons, we’d head to the pool for hours and hours. The girls had their friends, but, even better, sometimes the bigger campers and counselors from camp would deign to play with them. My friends and I would pool (get it? Pool?) our snack resources and take shifts to monitor multiple toddlers in the kiddie pool or a group of older kids in the shallow end or at the diving board.
When the girls started outgrowing town camp and the town pool, I think I went through a mourning period. Since then the summer’s been much more piecemeal, with a week of camp here, a vacation there, and occasional bouts of way too much television.
What’s frustrating is that it’s tough to plan ahead. Or, more pointedly, when I do plan ahead or try to learn from my mistakes, it tends to go wrong. Cases in point: one year we picked M up from her first-ever week at sleep-away camp. In the car she was super-excited about going for two weeks the following year, but we didn’t sign her up early and to my sorrow, she never actually went to that camp again. Last year we picked J up from her first-ever week at sleep-away camp. In the car she said she’d love to go for two weeks the next summer. We signed her up and now she has cooled considerably and is currently dreading going to the camp we’ve spent a non-refundable crap-ton of money to enroll her in. Last summer, J had plenty of leisure time and she sort of hated it. She felt at loose ends. So this year I booked her up for all sorts of activities, and she’s feeling pretty much exhausted. Meanwhile, with M it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. I thought she needed some summer activities, but then it started out busy, with tons of soccer and the prospect of a job. Now soccer’s simmered down for the moment and the job is not nearly the time-filler I expected it to be, but meanwhile I’ve been lulled into complacency long enough so that at this point it doesn’t feel like there’s much in starting something new, especially since soccer pre-season starts in a month.
So I’ve got one kid with too much to do and another kid with not enough to do, and between them, it’s just enough activity to cramp my style.
I realized as I started writing this is that another aspect of summer that likely has me down is that I’m feeling more isolated than in summers past. There hasn’t been much chit-chat, especially compared to years past, and I haven’t spent a single afternoon at the pool. Not to mention that this weather is ridiculous. Right now it’s 66 degrees and drizzling. Blegh.