For me, summer vacation provokes equal measures of elation and despair.
Elation because it’s summer — which means sunshine, homegrown tomatoes, long days at the beach and freedom from the rigors of a school schedule.
Despair because it’s summer — which means sunburn, weeds galore, long days at home with the kids and freedom from the rigors of a school schedule.
Yes, I’m torn about summer vacation. The weeks loom on the horizon as the days lengthen and the strawberries ripen.
My mom friends who work full time hustle for months in advance to schedule summer kid care. Organizing camp schedules, babysitters and vacations can take hours of lunchtime phone calls and spousal calendar meetings. No fun. But they do it because, at least in Asheville, there’s not yet year-round schooling.
My stay-at-home-mom friends hustle to figure out what exactly they’re going to do all day for 10 weeks with their little darlings. The cost of many of the local day camps can be prohibitive for single-income families. How many times can you visit the library each week? If your kids like to sit in a tree and read books all summer, you may be in luck.
As a mom who works part time, I get a taste of both worlds. I’ve signed my kids up for a couple of weeks of camps, primarily for the weeks that I’m single-parenting. And I’ll try to pull in the occasional sitter so I can get out of the house and actually do a few face-to-face interviews or pound out a couple of columns in a coffee-shop corner. I’m also lucky enough to have the ability to reduce my workload. Freelancers often can’t afford to say “No,” but it makes my summer run much smoother.
So there will be lots of at-home time — just the three of us sitting around looking at each other and waiting for the dog to do something funny.
Scheduling play dates helps. Living in a ‘hood where there’s lots of kid activity offers hope and opportunity. But I know we’ll be visited more often by the whinys in the summertime.
The whinys can attack any one of us, particularly when the days are hot, humid and dull. I’m anticipating lots of “What can I do now?” and “I’m bored” from the kid whinys. My favorite question and comment, both delivered in an eardrum-piercing tone, always come when I’m in the middle of a work phone call or trying to meet a deadline.
Of course, I should know by now not to work at certain times, such as when the kids have been happily playing outside for an hour and I sneak off to my computer, praying that one hour will become two. Sometimes it does, but the whinys have a preternatural ability to sense work. They come sniffing around with their brain-numbing questions to distract and demand.
The hotter the weather, the less I’m likely to respond to the kid whinys. I’ll be sweating, fan focused on the T-shirt sticking to my back, and my kids will ask if I can come outside to play basketball. Please, no, just let me sit here and sweat. Let’s go swimming, they say. Cool water sounds inviting, but gathering bathing suits, sunscream (as my boy calls it), snacks, drinks, towels etc., sounds exhausting. When it’s hot, getting from here to there can take more effort than I’m willing to give. That’s when the Mama whinys attack.
Ultimately, we’ll have fun this summer. The kids will remember the beach trip, the baseball, the pool and the funny things the dog did. They’ll forget about the whinys.
I won’t, though. Guess I’d better start teaching the Dorkie Poo mutt some new tricks.