Different Kids, Different Summer

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.






  1. Marta Ozisik

    Those were sweet, long afternoons at that little pool! I loved how kids of all ages would play “Poison Nuke ‘Em” with the volleyball (not sure where that name came from!) and crazy tag through the changing rooms! And of course, there was your pool cake! I will dig out your recipe and invite you for chit chat – in the teeny tiny break between summer soccer and school soccer! Ha!

  2. Claire

    My summers as a mom have evolved somewhat, but not as drastically as for some moms. When my son was little, we did playgrounds in the morning and naps and other home activities in the afternoon. He doesn’t nap anymore, but he still likes playgrounds combined with bike or scooter rides, so we still do that several mornings/week. Afternoons are often library activities, swimming lessons and other playdates, and we squeeze in academics in between all that. What strikes me is how different my version of summer is from most other moms who have kids around my son’s age. Mainly because we don’t do daycamp or classes outside the programs that are offered by the library. When I was a kid, I just hung out with the other neighborhood kids in the summer, and while that is less feasible these days, I didn’t do the camp/class thing for my son for a variety of reasons. (I spend so much on private swimming lessons, piano, etc that I don’t have much of a budget for those things, and he has so many food allergies that enrolling him in drop-off activities is more trouble than it’s worth; it’s easier for me to take him to things where I can be nearby with the epi-pen). As far as the weather this summer, it hasn’t really bothered me. The spring was horrendous, but we’ve had some very nice days this summer, and we’ve actually had some of that mostly elusive in-between weather where it’s in the 70s rather than 90s on one extreme and cold/rainy on the other. I can handle 60s and rainy as long as I can bundle up and sit on my porch swing and as long as my son can play basketball and ride his scooter in the driveway. I guess I’m spoiled because I don’t work in the summer, so as long as a day isn’t a complete washout, I’m around to enjoy whatever portion of the day is halfway decent. And while I don’t dread the heat as much now that we have a ductless AC system, I still love it when we can keep the windows open than when it’s in the 90s and the house is all closed up. (Or, to be honest, in my house with the low ceilings, we close it up once it gets above low 80s.)

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