"I have to go to the beach with Mimi and Papa because my parents need a break of me."
"You're not going because we need a break of you. You're going there because Mommy and Mama need to work and camp is closed that week."
Summer around here looks a lot different than it did when I was a kid. My mom stayed home with us. We played and swam in our pool and ran around our suburban neighborhood. I left my bike in the driveway overnight. My hula-hoop lived on the front lawn. We had neighborhood friends who were different from school friends. We had dinner outside every night. Usually with a few extra kids at the table.
In the summer, she has more child care than during the school year, because camp is full day and school isn't. There's no time for playdates or ice cream after school. We eat dinner inside because our city apartment porch doesn't have the space for a table. Sitting on the sidewalk lost its charm back in June.
The only summer vacation she takes is for the last week before school starts, when she goes to stay with my parents at the beach for the week. Without us. Because we have to work. When we signed her up for camp, there was talk of taking Fridays off and taking her to the beach. It's only an hour away. Summer goes so fast. And then work was busy as it always is, and camp is fun, and it just never happened.
Summer means making memories with new friends and trying new things and splashing and climbing and playing. Her curls are tighter when she gets home from drying after swimming at camp. Her legs are dirty from soccer and chalk and sticky from melting popsicles. If you ask her how her summer went, she'll reply with all the enthusiasm for all she did and learned and everything was so awesome. She didn't care that we had to work. She didn't even notice.
Because summer is awesome even if your parents have to work. Even if you need to keep your bike in the house instead of in the driveway. Summer doesn't require playdates and extra ice cream and vacations with your parents on the beach. Summer rules because of sundresses and sandals and swimming. Summer ruled when I was a kid because I was a kid. I made it awesome by running and climbing and dancing and playing with friends. She can do that too. And will. Year after year. Good job, summer. Good job, childhood.