'Summer Break' Is An Oxymoron And I Am Over It

by Christine Organ
Originally Published: 
summer break
Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock

Summer is slipping away and the days are getting shorter. Target’s shelves are lined with school supplies. My inbox is filling up with emails about drop-off procedures, back-to-school ice cream socials, and after-school activities. Summer is waning, parents. Soon it will be back to homework and schedules and PTA emails. Summer break is almost over.

And you know what?

I can’t fucking wait.

Because that whole magic of summer thing? Yeah, I’m over it. Totally over it.

Back in May, I had twinkly-eyed visions of summer. Back when I didn’t think I could handle one more school concert or PTA fundraiser, when school lunches were basically bologna sandwiches on dry white bread, when field trips were a special slice of hell — summer sounded pretty damn good.

I fantasized about lazy mornings in our pajamas followed by picnics in the park and afternoon trips to the pool. I imagined all the ways my kids would enjoy a laid-back summer of biking with their friends, making lemonade stands, and playing ghosts in the graveyard until past their bedtimes. I looked forward to casual family dinners out on the deck followed by walks to the ice cream shop, because there would be no homework to do or reading chart to be recorded.

And then the reality of the oxymoron known as “summer vacation” sets in.

Instead of packing one lunch a day, I’m making and cleaning up approximately 37 snacks a day. Instead of going through backpacks at the end of the day, I’m picking up wet towels and inside-out swimsuits and stinky sandals all day long. And instead of dealing with fights about homework, I’m breaking up sibling brawls about who touched whom first and who ate the last ice cream sandwich.

Our mornings aren’t lazy; they are early. Like ass crack of dawn early because — surprise! — kids don’t like to sleep when the sun is out. A lemonade stand means a mess in my kitchen, kids who consume more liquid sugar than they sell, and everything is sticky. Staying up late to play ghosts in the graveyard means extra crabby kids because they haven’t learned the art of sleeping in. Eating dinner alfresco means mosquito bites and bee stings.

You know what my kids do like during summer break? Scream and whine and bicker. Oh and leave the freaking door open.

And you know what? I’m totally over it.

I’m over the wet towels and swimsuits and the way every surface in the house as a certain stickiness to it. I’m over the late nights and way-too-early mornings. I’m over the noise — the earsplitting noise! — that never seems to stop. I’m over wrestling with my kids at the pool while I try to slather them with a streaky layer of sunscreen. I’m over the constant requests for snacks, and I’m over cleaning up the crumbly remnants of snacks. I’m over reminding them to shut the damn door every 5.3 minutes and, sweet baby Jesus, am I ever over the screaming and the whining and the bickering.

A few weeks ago my kids were in a one-week day camp. Every day I dropped them off at 9 in the morning and didn’t see their adorable little faces until 3 in the afternoon. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that was the best week of my life. I could actually hear my own thoughts. I could take a shower that wasn’t interrupted by screams from downstairs about someone’s Kindle Fire being dropped in the toilet. I could work uninterrupted during normal workday hours. I could talk on the phone with my mom for five minutes without saying “hang on” fifteen times to remind a child to stop riding the dog like a horse or get down off the hood of the car. I ate lunches that weren’t the discarded crusts of my kids’ sandwiches. It. Was. Heaven.

For one blissful week, for six blissful hours a day, my kids were in the care of someone else. And I thought, oh yeah, this is what the school year is like. Back in May when I was complaining about packing lunches and supervising homework, I didn’t know how good I had it. Teachers, I do not know how you do it. You deserve all the awards and all the dollars and all the things for dealing with these loud, whiny, dirty heathens for six hours a day. You are like mythical unicorn people or superheroes. Seriously, do you hide your capes under your cardigans?

Current situation: One child is screaming at another child for ruining his cushion fort. There is a half-eaten bowl of Goldfish crackers on the counter, but a child is howling for another snack — a different snack — in a different bowl. There is a mountain of wet towels and inside-out swimsuits in the middle of the kitchen floor. I can barely hear myself think over the noise from the screaming and the whining and television blaring some obnoxious tween-ish show. Absolutely everything is wet and sticky.

I am over it. So over it.

There are only 4 weeks, 6 days, and 19 hours and 17 minutes until the kids go back to school.

But who’s counting?

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