Billie Holiday lied. It’s summertime, and the livin’ ain’t anywhere near easy.
I can’t help it, though. Every year summer comes and I nostalgically anticipate lemonade dreams and firefly fantasies of easy laziness. I remember getting bored in the summer. I remember building forts in the back woods. I remember long, lazy bike-rides to the local ice cream shop and peacefully laying out in the sun.
My fringy daughter, however, appears to have never received the memo that summer is meant to be easy and laid back. And therefore, summer sucks.
I’m envious of those families who have some semblance of hazy, lazy, hot days of summer, even if it’s only at the cabin on weekends. Having differently wired kids means having differently wired summers. Their needs don’t stop. Their boredom meltdowns only become more frequent. The typical structure of school-year days evaporates in the heat of summer and my kid doesn’t do well with that. And so, I often have to work harder in the summer. Summer sucks.
In summer, I have to work hard to plan activities, to keep my kids on a regular bedtime routine, to manage meltdowns, to regulate little body temperatures that are extra sensitive to extreme temperatures, to play referee between intensely irritable children.
My autism-y, 2e daughter attends a brick and mortar school during the typical school year. In the summer, she goes to half day summer school. This change in routine means that she still gets tired out by the stimulation of a classroom full of students and being asked to complete tasks that her disabilities render difficult, while returning home to an afternoon of family. I wish I could keep those afternoons summer-y, carefree, and unstructured, but that would be nuclear holocaust in the Boorman household. So, in the afternoon, when I’m wishing for downtime after a morning filled with running around and/or homeschooling (we school year round), I instead need to garner up the remnants of my humanity and enthusiasm and plan structured activities. Summer sucks.
And I know I’m not the only one. Every parent of a fringy kid that I know agrees. We share knowing, exhausted glances. We see each other shuffling kids from one activity to another in any attempt to find routine, structure, and a chance for someone else to be in charge of our crazy child for a while. We textually vomit our frustration over the cellular networks when our kids can’t see. We crawl bleary-eyed into bed, meagerly and half-assedly fist-pumping the air that one more sucky summer day is over.
As though summer doesn’t suck enough as it is, we also get to hear cheery, summer-lovin’ songs blasted over the radio. We get to hear tv anchors and radio jockeys spout off all the great summer festivals and outdoor concerts that we will never in a million years be able to attend. We get to see movies and tv shows showing excited kids heading off to camp and rejoicing that the school year is over. We get to see commercials of iced tea glasses dripping with sultry condensation next to the gently swinging napper in a hammock. We get to have salt poured into our sucky summer wounds every single day. We get to feel like everyone else gets to have a summer and that we are alone in the suck.
Know you are not alone. Moms and dads and grandparents around the world are fatigued-ly fist-pumping right back. Stay strong, mama. Hold your head up high, papa. We’ll make it