Summer Vacation or Summer Purgatory (#324)

I know parents who can’t wait for summer vacation.

“No more making lunches!” a mom of three rejoiced on the last day of school a few years ago.

“We’re totally sleeping in,” said the mom with twins.

Another mom chimed in with, “No nagging about homework for 2 whole months!”

There were moms who had vacations planned, or had already purchased season passes to Disneyland. They were as giddy as their kids about the end of school.

I was never one of those moms. I dreaded summer vacations. My only child NEVER slept past 6 AM. Baby D was a restless bundle of energy (and if you let it build up it would explode as destructively as possible).

Baby D building a moat for his sand castle.

We walked the dogs to the park, ran errands, had Nerf wars, and then hit the beach or the pool before those other, luckier moms ever got up; like that old Army slogan, we did more before 9 AM then most people do all day.

Some afternoons I’d fall asleep on the floor in mid-battle between his stuffed cat army and my dog/bear army. Mostly I woke up before he jumped on me (always knees first) or snuck off to draw an ion canon from Clone Wars on the living room floor.

Mostly.

By the time Baby D was in elementary school, I was planning out as many half-day summer camps for soccer, surfing, baseball, gymnastics, basketball, or swimming as we could afford. In March.

And then came the pandemic. Last year, even the outdoor camps like Junior Lifeguards and British Soccer were canceled. Baby D’s regular soccer team didn’t hold practices until August. The best I could manage was a coach to wear out work with Baby D in private and semi-private lessons (outside with masks).

The only camp available was Mom Boot Camp, which Baby D hated. Mom Boot Camp meant that screen time was forbidden until after Baby D worked on his cleaning, laundry, cooking, dishwashing, weeding, sweeping, and dog washing skills.

Baby D slaving away in the kitchen.

This meant he also sharpened his whining and arguing skills, especially when I called him back to re-wash something properly. (Pro tip for the ruthless parent: this strategy of deterring slipshod cleaning is most effective when you interrupt games of Fortnite or Minecraft Bed Wars.)

This year, soccer camps returned, although most of them were not in LA County. I booked what I could.

When Andy announced that he would take Baby D to Hawaii to visit his mother for a whole week, I did a victory/ happy dance around the house while he checked the calendar and priced tickets.

I stopped mid-fist pump and asked, “You did check with your mom, didn’t you? Do not hit that ‘purchase’ button until you check with her.”

“She said she’s not going anywhere this summer,” Andy told me. And pushed the button.

Which meant that when Andy talked to his mother 10 days later, he learned that he’d booked flights one of the same weeks his sister was going with her entire family and her in-laws (and they were staying with Sunny for nearly a month). Sunny told Andy there simply wasn’t enough room at the inn. Unless he wanted to get a hotel room ($$$$) and rent a U-haul (since there were no rental cars available in Hawaii), Andy would have to cancel the trip.

This is how United Airlines acquired over $1,000 of our money and I lost my chance at a week by myself in the house after a year-and-a-half of Pandemic-Induced Always Togetherness.

I went for a walk until I didn’t want to murder my husband anymore.

It was a long walk.

When I returned, I told Andy that since he wasn’t going to use his vacation days for Hawaii, he could use them to take Baby D to a 3-day soccer camp 3 hours away.

“But it’ll be expensive,” Andy protested. “A hotel and eating out!”

“The hotel has free breakfasts and a kitchenette. Take a cooler of food.”

“But what am I gonna do while he’s in camp?” Andy whined.

“Sit out by the hotel pool and pretend you’re in Hawaii.”

Andy said nothing further.

Last week, the husband, the child, and the giant cooler of food drove away in the early morning hours.

The quiet was immediate.

No child demanded food or attention. No husband played music, argued on conference calls, or banged around in the kitchen.

I cuddled with the cat. I read books, blogs, and articles uninterrupted.

Usually, I made Baby D a big breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, bacon, and fruit. That morning, I opted for the easiest breakfast I could think of: cereal.

Only to find that there was no milk.

I texted Andy: Next time maybe tell me when you take ALL the milk.

He texted back: But you have cream.

I called him and yelled, “Did you just MARIE ANTOINETTE me?!”

I didn’t really mind, though. Sure, I would have to go to Costco later and buy milk.

But for the moment, being alone in my tiny house felt like being in a luxurious castle.

And I was queen.