Thirty years ago, I couldn’t wait until summer. It was my favorite season, and I loved everything about it. My childhood summers were filled with wonderful memories—above ground pools, ice cream trucks, boardwalks, ballparks, and endless hours spent playing outside with my cousins, getting filthy and sunburned as we wore ourselves out running and screaming outdoors.
Now that I’m a grown-up, as much as I still love summer and all the fun it brings, I’ve realized that I have a love/hate relationship with the warmest months of the year.
Here are the 10 things I (and lots of other parents, I bet) love to hate about summer:
1. Road Trips
Many of us romanticize road trips, but the truth is that they are misery. If I die and go to hell, instead of a lake of fire, I will be condemned to an eternal summer road trip in a minivan full of children. The car is cramped. I’m stuck under a boogie board and a cooler of soggy sandwiches that the kids won’t even eat, Elmo is singing on a loop, and someone is in hysterics because the iPad battery has died. The highway is a parking lot, and we’re about 40 miles from the nearest rest area. Everyone has to pee. Inevitably, someone vomits. There is always vomit on road trips. You will always have forgotten the trash bags, paper towels, and Febreze. Kill me now before we even pull out of the driveway.
2. Bathing Suits
Unless you are 13 years old, 5’9″ and about 90 pounds, you are pretty much destined to hate how you look in a bathing suit. Swimwear shopping is a form of torture guaranteed to obliterate even the healthiest person’s self-esteem. But forget about how we feel about our cellulite, pooches, and sags. Bathing suits are uncomfortable. They’re itchy and tight and the fabric doesn’t breathe, and can we please discuss those awful triangle pad things they put in bra tops? What the hell are those things? After the first wear, I can never get them positioned correctly, so I end up looking like an 11-year-old who stuffed her training bra with Kleenex. In addition to looking bad and spending the day picking at a spandex wedgie, the worst feeling in the entire world is being stuck in a wet swimsuit. I suffer from a lingering terror of something called “crotch rot” that my mother told me I’d get if I didn’t change into dry clothes immediately.
3. Frigid Water
Lakes, pools, the ocean, I don’t care. They’re all freezing, and no, I do not want to get in. Children, however, are completely immune to the effects of cold water. Every kid I know would gladly swim and splash for several hours in sub-zero temperatures. It’s like they can’t get hypothermia or something, and because they can’t feel the cold, they won’t rest until you come in with them.
4. The Beach
I hate the freaking beach. You can never just go to the beach. It involves hours of preparation, supplies, and packing. Then there’s unpacking and setting up, and at the end of the day there’s repacking and unpacking again, but this time with added sand. It’s worse than camping. Going to the beach is such a stressful ordeal that by the time we arrive, I’m already tired and ready to go home. Did I mention sand? I have major sensory issues with sand, and once you introduce sand into your life, you will never get rid of it. You will find grains of it in your washer, in your bathtub, on your floors, all over your car, and months later, you will still swear there is sand stuck in your butt crack. Add in jellyfish, rip currents, and that weird dude with the beer gut in the thong Speedo who keeps giving you the side-eye, and I’d much rather stay home and play in the sprinkler.
5. Amusement Parks
“Hey! Let’s pay a fortune to go to a really hot, crowded place with very little shade and really expensive, crappy food and spend the whole entire day standing in hours-long lines to get thrown around and tossed upside town for two minutes at Mach speed until we’re so nauseous that we can’t even speak,” said no one ever.
Mmmm. I love eating discs of charred boot leather that taste like the smoldering remains of a tragic house fire. Pass the ketchup.
Skimpy summer clothing and swimwear necessitate a vigilance about hair removal and personal grooming that I am just too lazy to maintain on a daily basis. Shaving, waxing, and depilation all hurt in their own unique ways, and don’t even mention the resulting razor burn and ingrown hairs. Hair removal makes my skin resemble a withered strawberry. I spend May through September red, bumpy, rashy, and stubbly. I can’t wait until winter when I can embrace my true Sasquatch heritage. Oh, and a word of caution: Never shave and go into saltwater. Learn from my mistakes.
8. Creatures That Wish Us Harm
All the creepy-crawly, stinging, biting, awful critters come out to inflict terror during the summer. I live in constant fear of horseflies, boxelder beetles, yellow jackets, wasps, stink bugs, sea lice, jellyfish, mosquitoes, and fire ants. There is not enough DEET in the world to keep them away. And oh my god, ticks! I can’t even think about ticks.
9. Family Reunions
There is a reason we have all scattered to opposite corners of the country, and family reunions tend to remind us how much we love our friends. Those, we chose. Yeah, it’s nice to see everyone every once in a while, but can’t we just look at Facebook and avoid the personality clashes, decades-old drama, overstimulated kids, and insipid potluck dishes? Seriously, family members, if it has Cool Whip it is not a salad! Will they ever learn? No, they will not.
Fine, they’re pretty, but the baby’s up screaming for the sixth time, the dog has peed on the floor in terror, and the cat may never come out from under the bed. Enough already. Is it really necessary to simulate the cacophony of war all night in order to celebrate our freedom? I’d prefer to celebrate my freedom to go to bed already.
Summer’s here, and I vow to be a good sport about it. I’ll eat the burnt burgers, suffer through swimsuit season, shiver in the icy pool, and sweep up all that sand, and you know what, I’ll do it with a smile because I love seeing the kids so happy and excited. Deep down I’m thrilled that they’ll be making the same great memories I did growing up. But I’m not going to lie—I’m already secretly counting the days until school starts, the mornings grow chilly, and Starbucks brings back the pumpkin spice latte.
Victoria Fedden’s memoir, This Is Not My Beautiful Life, comes out tomorrow, June 7th. Check it out! And congratulations, Victoria!