The thing about summer is…
..sunscreen. It’s sticky if you use the cream. The spray is great but costs a lot and doesn’t last more than a few days if you’re out in the sun regularly. If I don’t put it on, I’ll for sure get skin cancer. If I don’t put it on my kids, they’ll turn red, their skin will age prematurely, and they’ll include the oversight in their little notebooks titled, “My Bad Mother”. Also, when you go to the beach, sand sticks to you much worse if you’re wearing sun lotion. But what am I supposed to do? Stay inside? Go crazy? Move to Oregon?
…schedules. There aren’t any. If we had money for fancy camps, the girls still wouldn’t go – not now, not at their ages – because they’re burned out from the school year. When they were younger, I threw them into weeklong activities – theatre and sports camps — because they had no say in the matter. Now, they’re fine with Camp Mom and watching “Make It or Break It” on their devices. Problem is, I’m not fine with it. I need to write. I need to read. I need a schedule. But as much as I’ve tried to be okay with shutting them out for an hour or two and letting them drool in front of the television, it just doesn’t sit right with me. It has less to do with “television is bad” and everything to do with “Mom isn’t doing her job” and the idea that during summer, children should be outside. It’s neurotic and self-defeating, which always feels good. Miss T walks around wondering when I’ll look up from my laptop to answer her very important question, “What are we doing today?”
…swim suits. On women, even girls, they’re 90% awful. If none of us ever had to sit down in them, they’d only be 75% awful but standing for too long generally makes us retain water in our legs, so it’s a vicious circle. We went to the beach yesterday and, like last week, were treated to a parade of fat. Honestly, I don’t sit there judging the bodies. What I’m curious about are the two-piece numbers almost every woman chooses. They walk around in them, swim in them, sit in them, all the while ignoring the exposed butt cheeks, the spare tires, the thunder thighs. If they’re comfortable with their fat nakedness, I’m jealous, but I don’t believe all of them are. And if they’re wearing bikinis because they think that’s what the men like, I’m angry and confused. Angry because I don’t like the idea of being submissively and sartorially uncomfortable to please the guys, and confused because I can’t imagine the guys like what I saw yesterday and everywhere women are gathered near water. Besides, if you’re going in the ocean – actually swimming in your swimsuit – and want to catch a wave, there isn’t a chance in hell that suit is going to stay where you want it to. (Did I mention my skin is milky white? When God created the Irish, He didn’t consider swim suits.)
…bugs. They’re everywhere, or maybe it’s because we’re spending more time in their outdoor neighborhoods, I don’t know. What I do know is that they’re annoying. Some of them sting you, or at the very least make you scream like a little girl, flap your arms around, then bob and weave like a middleweight. Eventually, the offending bee or wasp flies away wondering, I’m sure, what the fuss was all about. The ants go marching two by two, all ten thousand of them, so you spray and stomp and murder the poor little workers, then spend the rest of the day thinking you feel one of them crawling up your arm. Spiders – there are a lot of cute books written about them and even some good songs – but when it comes to the real thing, on the wall next to you when you’re sitting on the toilet/tuffet? Not so cute, not so good. And it’s summer, so here in Los Angeles anyway, where it’s not so hot you have to run the air conditioning all the time, we open the windows and the sliding doors. Sure, we have screens but we also have children who don’t close screen doors and so we have house flies. They’re disgusting and we hate them, especially when they land on our food. They have superhero eyes which means they’re difficult to catch, although when caught and crushed, a feeling of accomplishment akin to getting a stubborn popcorn kernel out of one’s tooth is achieved. If you live back east or in the south, bugs sound like airplanes and are often the size of cats. I don’t even want to think about it.
…the heat. I don’t mind sweating, I honestly don’t. But no amount of clothing feels good when it’s stuck to you. And occasionally these days for me, slouching towards fifty, the heat comes from within. Combined with ninety degree temperatures outside? Not ideal. I prefer rain and snow.
…it arrives every year, whether I’m ready or not. And I’m never ready but I’m always hopeful. Optimism is not my problem. Having kids around 24/7 is. They’re so hard to ignore and I don’t want to disregard their presence. I just want to be two people during the summer – the one who accomplishes many tasks and reads a lot of books while staring at the ocean somewhere, and the one who entertains her children — because the world is not what it was when I was young and could jump on my bike, head over to Sharon’s, and we could entertain ourselves playing ‘capture the flag’ with her brothers. I think that’s where so much of my discomfort lies. Our kids don’t get the summers we had, roaming the neighborhood and getting into scrapes we had to get out of ourselves. It’s hard to manufacture that freedom, though I suppose I could throw the girls out the front door, lock it, and tell them to come back around dinnertime. There’s an idea, and not a bad one.
“Girls! Put your shoes on! Who’s got the sunscreen?”
Life, My Tuesday take, Parenting