Parenting in the summer, over the years:
Before and after kindergarten: You spend time together doing structured activities, visiting museums, beaches and pools. Happy pictures of your adventures fill your social media feed. You’re still feeding him organic, nutritious food and dressing him in cute Gymboree coordinates. You make homemade ice cream and squeeze fresh juice. Summer is bliss.
After first grade: You do all of the above, mixing in cool day camps to try to generate interests in science, music and art. Summer is long, but you only get this time with them once, and you’re going to enjoy it.
After second grade: Day camp all summer but for the couple of weeks you go on vacation. Structure is good. So is before and after care. You give up on organic and aim for has more ingredients you don’t need a degree in chemistry to recognize than not. Child wears whatever shorts and t-shirts are clean. You find your summer drink of choice is no longer lemonade but gin and tonic. By July 4, you know exactly how many days until school starts and have bought a new backpack and filled it with supplies. Summer feels like a slog through muck, but you’re making it look good.
After third grade: Having fought to get your child up and out to school for at least 80% of the days it was open, you forgo camp because YOU need a vacation. Child runs the streets in lederhosen and a Batman cape carrying Nerf blasters when he’s not sitting in his room with the flat screen television and Xbox (which you swore would never be in his room) screaming and cursing at his “classmates” (whom you suspect might really be 40 yo child predators) while they kick each other out of private parties. Child refuses to bathe and only emerges only for food of no nutritional value but lots of calories, powdered juice-like drinks and to demand game upgrades and faster wifi. Child insists the Xbox be taken on vacation. You start sporting a cap that says, “it’s five o’clock somewhere” and buying boxed wine and adult margarita juice boxes. It’s not drinking alone if the cats are hiding in a closet with you. You know exactly how many hours until school starts on the day after it closes. You dread knocks at the door because it means the swarm of smelly children is about to decimate your food supply, again. You google summer sleep away camp and set up a vacation club account at the bank to save for it. Every damn day the sun sets is one day closer to the one when school opens.
Summer after fourth grade: Bye Felicia! Have fun at military camp!