School gets out on May 29th in Elmhurst. For heaven’s sake, it won’t even be June yet, and our kids will be lolling around in their pajamas at 10 a.m. trying to figure out if they want to watch yet another episode of SpongeBob, or invite the entire neighborhood over for a water fight. Excuse me. I mean an Epic Water Battle.
Sure, you can consult your calendar to find out exactly when summer vacation starts, but the truth is, you’ve known it’s been coming for a while. Moms start getting that preemptive tired look on their face as they peruse camp brochures and talk to other mothers. What are your kids doing for summer vacation? they murmur in hushed tones on the playground. Because, for crying out loud, they’ve got to do something. If they don’t do something, there are going to be a lot of exasperated parents out there. There’s got to be a sports team. Or a day camp maybe? Summer school? Community theatre?
I’m kidding. (No I’m not.)
Here are the top five lies I tell myself every summer:
1. I hate summer.
No, I don’t, really. I love summer. What’s not to love? Warm breezes, no homework. Grilling. Sounds of children laughing. Picnics. Sprinklers.
Do I worry about three months of unstructured time for my kids? Sure I do. But I'll get through it.
2. This summer, we’re sticking to our regular bedtimes.
Yeah, right. It doesn’t even get dark until 8:30, and that’s when the fireflies come out. Do you want the kids to miss that?
3. I’m going to make time for myself this summer.
Mommies need time for themselves, but you’re delusional if you think you’re actually going to be alone. Unless “Me-Time” means the one minute you get on your patio before one of your kids, hot and sweaty from playing, climbs up on your lap to sip from your lemonade and stroke your cheek with a sticky hand. Which, all in all, may not be a bad thing.
4. A good, old-fashioned vacation is what we need!
What we need is an all-inclusive resort hotel on an exotic island. What we’ll actually do will be a road trip to some unsuspecting relative’s house. We’ll fight over the temperature of the air conditioning in the car—until it breaks down somewhere in the middle of Iowa. Half the family will want Arby’s, the other half Burger King. No one will want the natural peanut butter sandwiches on 12-grain bread that I lovingly packed in the cooler. We’ll hear “Are we there yet?” a thousand times. Upon arrival, we’ll find out our relatives don’t have cable, don’t have an iPad, and their hide-a-bed in the basement smells like mildew. When we get back home, our dog will have kennel cough and all the houseplants will have died. Believe me, a vacation is not what we need.
5. I will NOT allow my children to buy from the ice cream truck.
You spend all your spare time telling your children to stay away from strange men in white vans who offer candy to children, then the ice cream man comes along and makes hypocrites of us all. I’ll fight a good fight, but at a certain point, the demonic sound of out-of-tune calliope music turning onto our block will wear me down, and just for once, I’ll decide to be Fun Mom. Maybe on a plain ol’ Tuesday when they least expect it. But you can be sure that some time, probably in August, I’ll give in and we’ll chase the ice cream truck down, waving dollar bills at him.
I'll push to the front of the line and get a Dreamsicle, the orange kind with vanilla ice cream in the middle. If you see me, I'll have orange residue on my chin and a trail of orange splotches below me on the sidewalk. I'll look like I'm lost in a reverie, transported to hot summers in my South Side hometown the year I was 12, when the long hot days seemed to go on forever.
But what I'll be thinking is, Gee, I really hate summer. No really. I do.
Carol Pavlik is a freelance writer and mother of four.