There Is No Summer When You Have A Toddler

by Kimberly Zapata
Originally Published: 

I vaguely remember a time when I counted down the days until summer.

I, of course, was of school age and summer meant no tests or teachers or forced games of dodgeball, for which my vertically challenged ass was always picked last. It meant afternoons in the pool and evenings with popsicles in hand and Elton John blasting from my boombox. (Don’t judge; “Crocodile Rock” was the jam!) It meant sleeping in and staying up late and, on rare occasion, there was even a random day trip to Walt Disney World.

But summer’s now? Wait, is it summer already?

You see, I am the parent of a 2-year-old child. Children under 5 have no structure, aside from mealtime and naptime, and even those are games of toddler roulette. There are no seasons, or days, with a small child, because every day is the same. Every day starts with a diaper change and demands for milk and Elmo, and every day ends with demands for cookies, Elmo, and a diaper change. (What do kids see in that little red furball anyway? I was a Super Grover and Snuffy sort of gal.) We sing “Wheels on the Bus” 50+ times a week, so much that I’ve found myself secretly wishing that the driver will have a heart attack and hit the guardrail, shattering the axle and ensuring those damn wheels stop spinning. And we have snacks on the kitchen floor while we color or paint. Before you get excited by the variable “or” and think, “oh variety!” every craft project ends in a pile of shredded paper on the floor, so it makes no difference after all. In fact, everything ends up on the floor — blocks, books, tupperware, every toy we own — and every night I spend at least 30 minutes cleaning up this toddler tornado. Nothing is new or unique, and from 6 a.m until 8 p.m. we live a life that would make Phil Connors blast his — and Punxsutawney Phil’s — head right the fuck off.

So this idea of summer, well, let’s just say it doesn’t excite me because 1) I don’t get to sleep in, 2) Lord knows I can’t manage to stay up late anyway, 3) Days off are a joke, and 4) Cocktails before 4 p.m. are frowned upon. (Go figure!) Instead, summer is just one long, sweaty, mosquito-infested day.

That said, there is one thing I am looking forward to, the same thing I look forward to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: daycare. My daughter is in part-time daycare; this means that I get a few hours of respite every week to work and go to doctors’ appointments and do all that other fun stuff I now associate with free time. (Let me tell you, I had the most relaxing MRI a few months back!) Sure, I could pull her out of school for the season and “do things with her,” like go to the zoo or playground, but at the risk of sounding shitty, why? Why screw up her semi-routine and rob me of my sanity?

Let me be clear: I love my daughter, but she’s two. Two. To put that in perspective, she hasn’t even been on this planet for 1,000 days yet. I have cans of tuna with expiration dates older than she is! She eats Kix off of the floor and tries to play with kitty litter. Will she appreciate the beauty of the botanical gardens or a day at the waterpark? No. In fact, no toddler will. They may enjoy the sights, for a bit, and smile as you feed them ice cream from an overpriced snack shack they have on the premises, but no matter what you do, the day will end in tears and fraying sanity. (I’ll leave it to you to decide who is crying.) At school she has great teachers who watch over her and enrich her in ways I just can’t while working, and she has built in playdates, which means I don’t have to initiate awkward mommy “friend” conversations at the park.

So for those of you having a “70s style summer,” enjoy. I’ll think of you every morning, with a bit of longing and a whole hell of a lot of envy, when I rise at 6 a.m. and begin doing the same thing I did yesterday again today, and well into tomorrow.

Related post: Lord, Grant Me Patience This Summer Vacation

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