I remember the panic I felt when school was out for the summer. Buying craploads of stickers, model clay and construction paper. Permanently borrowing my brother’s Disney+ login and password. Creating the perfect color-coded daily schedule on what our summer camp would look like (that schedule lasted about two weeks).
I quietly cried on the last day of school, not because my daughter was graduating from Pre-K, but because I wondered what I would do without the noisy classroom Zoom meetings, those random activity sheets and those easy recipes for healthy snacks I never made. Plus, I wondered how I would continue to make an impact at work.
How would we all survive summer 2020 in 1,500 square feet?
And yesterday, I woke up and stared at the ceiling. Listening to my kids arguing, the dogs barking (no, we don’t own dogs, but our neighbors below us and next to us do) and the humming of the air conditioner. Summer 2020 was coming to a close. And I have been feeling sad about it as I count down the last days as we head to Labor Day.
I am not exactly sure why I am sad about it. Maybe I am sad because we were robbed of our traditional summer activities, including seeing all of our extended family, spending time with old friends and making new ones. Maybe I am sad because I feel like I let my kids down; I could have tried harder to make this a better summer for them as I mindlessly scroll on Instagram staring at the faces of other happy children, envious of all the things the “cool” moms and dads did. Maybe I am sad because as we head back into the school routine (without a mask at home, or with a mask at school—now that is the question) we will be spending less time together, as we all hurry off to what we need to get done next.
And yet somehow, we managed to survive. We muddled through this summer. We had tantrums. We laughed and laughed until we cried. We did lots of couch cuddles, we read stories and made up new stories, we ate Reese’s Pieces right before bedtime (when Dad wasn’t looking of course). We made it to the other side of summer 2020.
I would consider my experience as a summer camp counselor a success. I wasn’t fired, although there were not other candidates to backfill me, and my kids seem to be doing OK. They weren’t injured, they didn’t break anything or hurt each other. And they seem happy. I will add this accomplishment to my LinkedIn profile.
Goodbye broken sidewalk chalk, fluorescent jump ropes and random rocks we painted.
Goodbye bubble wands, leaky mini water guns and our summer Crocs.
Goodbye swimsuits we only used in the bathtub. Goodbye squished sunscreen tubes. Goodbye ripped summer hats and cracked sunglasses.
Goodbye summer 2020. I don’t think I ever properly welcomed you in, said hello and asked you to stay. And you stayed anyway. Now that it’s time to say goodbye, I will miss you. I hope next year when you come, I won’t be as frustrated. That I will be eating fewer Reese’s Pieces and drinking less of my kids’ apple juice boxes. That I will bring some of my summer camp counselor tricks with me into 2021 (maybe some of those glitter sticks and construction paper), and mostly, I will leave summer 2021 to the experts.
Summer 2021, I’ll be ready to welcome you. With a piña colada umbrella drink in hand, sporting the perfect blowout, my super cool pink sunglasses perched on top of my head. Don’t worry, I’ll have a drink ready for you too.
My kids will be waiting to lick a melting ice cream cone they got from the ice cream truck. My kids will be waiting to watch fireworks, catch dragonflies and eat hot dogs off their grandparents’ backyard grill. My kids will be waiting for you in their puddle jumper life jackets because they forgot how to swim.
And I’ll be in a new swimsuit that I too can use in an actual pool, and not in a dirty bathtub.