Ask a parent how they feel about summer, and they will most likely say they feel all the things. Some of summer is memory-making, Kodak-moment amazing. But the same parts that are amazing tend to be the same parts that are a total, pull-your-hair-out misery.
You’re exhilarated for school to end. You’re terrified for school to end. You want to cling to the hem of the teacher’s skirt and beg, “Please don’t leave us, nice teacher-lady who takes my kids for seven hours a day, five days a week.”
Your kids pile in the car on the last day, all smiles, and you smile along with them, excited for all the family time you’ll have over the next three months. And then you think three whole months and suddenly you break into a cold sweat.
Because that is the bittersweet truth of summer. It is equal parts amazing and nerve-wracking. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Your kids are home.
Your kids are home more. You can craft or travel or watch silly cartoons. Now is the time to kick them outside to play with the sprinkler. You can make sure they eat healthy lunches and get to bed at a decent hour. You can do all the things you always wanted to do but never had time for, like plant a garden and read Shel Silverstein. You will bond. You will bond like fucking Gorilla Glue. Because nothing makes a true parent-child bond like watching Moana inside in the air conditioning in your pjs on a 100 degree day for the 575th time.
Except that your kids are home more. If you work outside the home, you’re scrambling to find childcare and camps that don’t cost as much as your mortgage. And if you are a stay-at-home parent, now is the time for everyone to be constantly subjected to everyone else’s annoying personal habits without a break. Your kids will howl at you for belting out Hamilton in the shower and accidentally-on-purpose let it slip to their friends. They will shove each other and jump on the couch. They will not stop asking for snacks, and might occasionally do something monumentally stupid, like setting the patio on fire.
2. You get to give your kids all the yummy joys of summer.
You get to stuff your babies full of all the summer yums, from the melons and the strawberries to the neon-colored freezer pops. Homemade ice cream, motherfucker!
You’re expected to stuff your babies full of all this sticky, drippy sweet shit they beg for that invariably stains all the things and gives them a sugar high. Just strip them before you hand them a slice of watermelon. It’s easier than bankrupting yourself in Tide Sticks. And can you say, homemade ice cream, motherfucker?!
3. You go to the beach.
The sun! The sand! The waves! They build enormous sand castles while you relax under an umbrella with a drink that coincidentally also sports an umbrella. Boogie boards and surfboards abound. Afterwards, the kids are exhausted, which means a nice long nap.
The sun is burning. The sand is up your ass crack. The waves knock the kids down and they cry. Their siblings knock down those enormous sand castles and they cry. You marshall them all from under an umbrella, not coincidentally with a drink that also has an umbrella and is getting sand in it but you are drinking that shit anyway. There are too many boards to keep track of and you had to drag them all down here. Afterwards, the kids are exhausted, which means extra shoving and whining.
4. There’s a pool somewhere.
Maybe it’s a relative’s. Maybe it’s the public pool. Maybe it’s your own. But regardless, you get a blessed relief when you haul your kids and all their gear over there to spend a few hours splashing and playing in the water. Maybe you can read a novel. You can at least look like a hot mom in a bathing suit, sunglasses, and floppy-ass hat.
You hauled a king’s ransom in goggles and floaties and stupid-ass pool toys over here only to have them ignored when your kids ask to dive pennies. Their splashing is mostly directed at each other — an aquatic form of shoving. You cannot read a novel because you are afraid they will drown. You look vampire-pale in your bathing suit; your big sunglasses are a little too big, and you conclude you look ridiculous in a floppy hat.
5. Unstructured playtime.
You decide that you will let your kids be bored and figure out how to amuse themselves. This is what you did in the dark days of the ’80s and ’90s and it led to bonding shit and adventures like Stand by Me, right?
Your kids cannot cope without structure. They drape themselves over the furniture when they are not jumping on it and sigh heavily that they have nothing to do. Your suggestions are met with choruses of “That’s bo-ring,” until you walk out of the room and purposely avoid the liquor cabinet on your way to somewhere they are not. If they made a summer movie of kids in 2018, it would be called Minecraft and Fortnite: My Brain is Slowly Replacing All School Knowledge with This Crap.
What summer stuff are you both looking forward to and dreading?