What is… summer?

This morning over breakfast, my 9-year-old daughter asked me, “mom, what is … summer? Like, will we have … school? Still?” She looked genuinely puzzled. She’s been on a system of school/summer for four years now (she didn’t get summer breaks in daycare), except the past year has been such a weird, oily mix of days off, days on, remote school, school-school, that she’s lost her orientation. Haven’t we all.

The kids started back at school last week (they only went Tuesday because of how the cohorts work, and MLK day), for the first time since before Thanksgiving. While preparing Grant for the idea of being in school, I asked if he was excited to play with his friends. He looked at me for a second then said, “we don’t play together mom.” The lost pre-k year.

This morning when Grant woke up, he cuddled up to me and said “mom, I was doing a dream where Yoshi took me and threw me at the beach and it was so much fun.” I love that he calls dreaming “doing a dream,” first of all, and second, he is so solidly who he is. He loves playing Yoshi on the Switch, and he loves talking about going to the beach, and when he’s at the beach, he’s living his best life.

I think we have the makings of a pretty good plan for the next couple weeks (kids in school two days, then the nanny 3 days a week) so I can work a mostly normal schedule, and after that, in March, we’re probably going to send Grant to daycare for those 3 days. The twins are old enough to stay home with me while I work, and get their own school work done, but Grant is really struggling without socialization. He’s going feral, and I’m really worried about the long-term implications for him. Plus, I’m going bonkers myself. I don’t want us to go backwards to what we all used to think of as “normal,” but I do want some sense of predictability in our lives again. Right now, I am constantly waiting for the phone to ring because school is shutting down, or my kids randomly have a fever, or the nanny is sick (that happened last week and threw the entire week into disarray), or something happened to mom, or something else in my small orbit happens. Never mind the national and global problems that influence our world but it feels I can barely influence in return.

I wonder if, when summer does arrive — traditionally a time of relaxation and slowing down, filled with friends and family — we will recognize it, if we’ll remember what it is.

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