Ice cream, long sandy days at the beach, barbecues. We wait all year long for the summer.
Why do we do that? If you are a teacher, you have the summers off. If you are a kid, you have the summers off. Some people go on vacation during the summer. I have fond recollections of the two-week road trips my family would take — they were road trips, because my mom was afraid to fly. We would pile into the car, maps in hand, and off we would go. I have been to all 13 original colonies and more dead presidents’ homes than I care to mention…but those trips were lots of fun.
This summer, thanks to my addiction to social media, I have been on many amazing vacations. I started in St. Lucia (you know who you are), and I have been to Spain, Russia, Croatia, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, Israel, Italy, and Iceland. Oh, and I saw the rock of Gibraltar, which may or may not be near or in Spain. Geography isn’t my thing (or math or science or history, but I digress).
Summer is a time for rest and relaxation, though sometimes I wonder where it got its reputation from. Because, like everything else, what your summer is like is based on where you are in life.
When my boys were little, and no one was in camp of any kind yet, those long summer days were very, very long. Keeping them happy and occupied when the sun never sets and the weather is scorching becomes an Olympic sport. Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, trips to the zoo — they all become a test of patience and parental skill. Will the snack make it through a day trip? Will your kids fall asleep on the car ride home and then get a second wind and not go to sleep at night? Which flavors of ices stain clothing permanently? How much water can a swim diaper really hold?
As they got older, the summers did become more relaxing, because we could send the boys off to sleepaway camp. (Quite honestly, summers became more relaxing when they were all out of diapers — but that is for another column.) The day finally arrived when all three of my gifts from God were going away. We brought them to the bus stop and saw parents sobbing, “Oh, how I am going to miss my precious angels!” they would weep. Oh, you mean the precious angels who you were screaming at in the mall because they couldn’t decide which sneakers they wanted? Or the precious angels who you were screaming at because they never did their homework? Or because they were fighting with their siblings? Those precious angels?
I would like to think that I have a more realistic view of my boys. So at the bus stop, husband #1 and I were wondering if we were the worst parents in the world because we were ready to get out of there — and the buses hadn’t even left yet! I know what you are thinking. We wanted to get out of there so we could spend time together. Nope. He dropped me off at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I would be able to spend five blissful hours alone. Well, not really alone. It was me and Monet. But it was the first time in nine years that I wasn’t going to have a shadow, or someone asking me for something to eat, or where the bathroom was — or for anything for that matter.
And before I know it, somehow, the summers of the boys going to sleepaway camp are over. I am in this lovely purgatory, and I am sincere in saying that it is lovely. This summer, I had two sons in Israel and one back at home. The one who is home is son #1. This probably is the most quality time we have spent with him, which I guess is what happens when your first two children are only 15 months apart.
It was nice having someone to wake up every morning (OK, I didn’t really do that) and someone to make dinner for every night (I sort of did that), because you never know what the future will bring, or who will be home next summer. I missed not having a visiting day to go to, even sitting in traffic for four hours going home, because no visiting day means I am getting OLD.
And now this summer is almost over. What did I do? Where did I go? Where did the summer go? All very good questions. Maybe if I wasn’t so old I could remember the answers…
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is hoping that all of her readers have been enjoying their summers. She is looking forward to having all of her monkeys home sometime in January.