Today marks the end of the first month of the kids’ summer vacation. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure we were going to find our groove. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of squabbling, tattling and boredom. But, as it usually happens, we’ve found our rhythm in the loose summer schedule, even as the pace has slowed down.
What I’ve noticed over the years is that each summer has a certain vibe to it. Part of it has to do with how old the children are and how dependent (or increasingly, how independent) they are on me. When my kids were little, I wore all sorts of hats during the summer holidays, including:
- Chef. Not that we need to dwell on the reviews of my summertime cooking — either then or now. But back when my kids were little, the days revolved around my making a meal/watching them eat only the barest amount to stay alive/cleaning up from said meal. Now, I have much less to do with the actual making of all the meals (the kids handle their own breakfast and lunch and sometimes even dinner), but I bear far more responsibility in ensuring that there’s food in the fridge for them to scarf down. And that’s not as easy as it sounds.
- Teacher. I always think, This summer, I’ll make sure we have some structured time for reading and math. It never really materializes the way I plan. Ever. Thank goodness the kids like to read on their own, so we don’t have to fight that particular battle.
- Chauffeur. When my kids were younger, I drove them to story time, to the zoo, to toddler activities, and that was about it. Now I’m in the car more, picking them up and dropping them off. My poor minivan has really gotten quite the workout over the past couple of summers.
- Entertainer. I believe in allowing kids to be bored enough to make their own fun, but I also believe in having a back-up plan or two for self-preservation. Or maybe 10 or 20 plans to be on the safe side. I still like having options at the ready, but I’m finding that my kids brainstorm lots of ideas for keeping busy without my chiming in at all.
- Referee. Back in the day, the kids would clash with each other, and then one would declare, “I’m telling Mom!” And they really would stomp up to tell me all about it. Nowadays, I usually hear the same threat, but it’s quickly followed by frantic, hushed negotiations designed to mollify the “wronged” party so he/she doesn’t follow through with it. It takes a really big grievance, I’ve noticed, before I’m consulted to administer a swift decision.
The weather also affects the vibe of each summer. It was so unbearably hot last year that none of us wanted to venture out for any longer than we had to. Even the pool, my savior in summers’ past, didn’t hold much allure. Like a magician trying to impress a jaded crowd, I had to come up with new tricks and activities to break up the monotony of being inside, hunched near the A/C all day. We endured, rather than enjoyed, a lot of last summer.
This year is completely different. Right now in the upper Midwest, we vacillate between warm, humid days and cool, rainy ones. Some days it’s far too cold to hit the pool, but it’s perfect for being outside. Especially for playing a little Frisbee on a breezy Saturday night:
Or whacking a tennis ball around on a bright Sunday afternoon:
Or eating a picnic dinner while listening to a free concert by Banjo Buddies, a Dixieland jazz band:
With one month down and two to go, this school vacation’s vibe is all about the chill, I think — both in weather and in mood. I like it. This is my kind of summer.
Do you find your summers have a particular feel to them? Have you noticed any changes as you and/or your kids have gotten older?