It's been a ride, hasn't it? Summer is an emotional roller coaster no matter how you look at it. So hang on tight, embrace it as a transformative experience and take comfort in the fact that you have plenty of company.
Here are the seven stages of summer vacation, as experienced by everyone:
1. The Garden Stage
This is the most beautiful and honest stage of the summer vacation. It's approached with a clear mind and a happy heart. You are going to plant vegetables this year! The children are going to cultivate them and mid-summer, you will reap your harvest and transform it into delectable salads. You will pickle beets! Pack them with goodness and a mild sweetness that will sate the children throughout the year.
In fact, you do plant vegetables, before the school year even ends! One must plan ahead for fresh salads served in July. The Garden Stage is positively gleeful for the entire family.
Pat yourself on the back. You are preemptively battling the demons of Summer Vacations Past.
2. The Aggressive Math Review Stage
Everybody knows that math equations spill from the heads of students, slipping out of your children's ears and crashing to a grim death by their feet. Piles and piles of murdered numbers. You know. You've seen the commercials for the local tutoring center. At no point did fine print pop up, assuring you that this is a dramatization. But math tutoring is crazy expensive and the Internet is free, so you decide to review math with the children yourself. This will result in many, many, many tears.
Fortunately, Stage Three is just around the corner!
3. The Vacation Stage
The Vacation Stage is arguably better than The Garden Stage. The Garden Stage is all about possibility. But The Vacation Stage is concrete. You are going on vacation! As many parents have noted in the past, vacationing with kids is just parenting in a different location with fewer resources and more expense, but it's still crazy exciting. You are going someplace else! You might take a plane! You can post pictures! Somebody will cook for you! There will be beaches, mountains, lakes, boats, other languages and adults wandering around in sweaty, plush costumes! The vacation stage is the highlight of the summer.
The downside of the Vacation Stage is that you garden will most likely be dead by the time you get home. Don't worry about this. The garden is more about The Garden Stage than the actual garden. And, be honest, you weren't going to pickle the beets anyway.
4. TheI Think I Should Homeschool While the Family Travels the World Stage
Vacation was a blast, wasn't it? You got to see a slice of the world that you wouldn't usually see and it blew your mind just how that little difference in routine rocked your family's world. And so you get to thinking, I only have them for a few years! Time has flown and now it's just flying faster and soon these babies will no longer be mine, for they will belong to the universe. I must hold them close and teach them everything I know!
Don't be deterred by The Aggressive Math Review Stage! Those tears were the tears of a rookie.
(Take note: This stage ties in well with The Garden Stage. It may cause you to reconsider your beets. Fortunately, beets are remarkably hearty and forgiving and will probably offer you a second chance.)
5. The Plan A Sleepaway Camp for Next Year Stage
The children are bored, their buddies are out of town and they're four hours into a Naked and Afraid marathon. These are the dark days of summer. You regret every opportunity you never gave them and your heart breaks over the lack of local canoe rentals. At the same time, the phrase "I'm hungry" will turn you into a quivering pile of angst.
This is also knows as the "Find a Friend" stage. Your thoughts may be dire, but they aren't original. You'll feel a million times better when your friend confirms that.
6. The Lunchable Stage
You've had a day or so of peace and healing. "I'm hungry" still has the power to make you cry, but no one has ever died from the occasional mechanically separated chicken. Banish the guilt to the furthest corners of your mind and distribute Lunchables to anyone willing to take one.
The children's response to The Lunchable Stage will be unadulterated joy. Bask in it.
7. The Amnesia Stage
When school is less than a week away, The Amnesia Stage hits hard. The Amnesia Stage embraces every last instant of quality time. Clothing is purchased, hair is trimmed and last year's schoolwork is worshiped. You will reconsider Aggressive Math Review. You will reconsider Homeschooling. You will banish thoughts of sleepaway camp to the furthest corners of your mind because your babies are too precious to be out of your sight. The Amnesia Stage is the musical montage part of the movie, the part that always makes you cry.
Don't even try to hide it. We've all been there and we'll all be there again, sooner than we expect.