I remember summer vacation from when I was a kid and it was day after day of nothing structured, no trips, no significant plans, an endless expanse of bike rides, shooting hoops, playing baseball on the street, tennis against the garage door, hanging with friends and having summer adventures. I never made Super 8 movies (never thought of it!) but my friends and I definitely did crazy bike rides to the beach (a really, really long way), got deep into the CB radio craze and otherwise frittered away week after week of holidays.
I think that’s part of what summer vacation is all about, that endless hanging out with friends and finding things to fill the hours, stuff to do that kept us more or less out of trouble. Building deeper friendships and finding that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you make of what’s around you.
Today with the rise of “playdates” (rather than just “playing”), an almost infinite number of themed summer camps and the increase in travel, it seems like just as many kids are on the go for most of the summer, something that I think is potentially a problem for their success in school. But that’s not really the issue.
This topic arises because my ex doesn’t work and essentially has the entire summer off to go on trips with our kids. So they do. Two weeks to her Dad’s place in Missouri, then three weeks in Germany. Great stuff, super experiences for my kids, and really fun, but…
… it teaches my kids that we parents are responsible for their entertainment (as in “you’re bored? I’ll come up with a solution!”) as opposed to my own summer experiences of it being my responsibility to figure out what to do day after day with my friends to avoid the dreaded specter of boredom.
Plus, as I state in the title of this blog entry, it’s a long time for them to be away from me. Five weeks out of the ten that they (realistically) have for summer vacation and they’re out of state? I get to have a taste of single, no kids life, and frankly I don’t particularly like it. I love my kids and want to have them around so we can do stuff, so they can lay around on my couch and complain about being bored :-), so we can meet up with friends, so I can host sleepovers and parties. So we can, in a nutshell, enjoy the summer together.
I know that they miss me when they’re on one of their frequent trips with Mom, but the years have shown that their coping mechanism post-divorce is to be extraordinarily focused on the now and while they may think about the other parent, they don’t check in. The result? They’ve been gone a week and I’ve gotten one text message from my son — “can you mail my favorite t-shirt here?” — and zero communication from either of the girls. If I suggest Skype or a phone call, my ex will tell me it’s problematic because the kids get sad and depressed afterwards, so she discourages them from occurring.
The big trip to Germany is going to be even worse because they won’t even be able to send text messages without it costing an arm and a leg, so I’m expecting three weeks without a peep from them the entire time, no post cards, no email, nothing.
Two weeks is a long time, but three weeks immediately thereafter?
That’s a long time to be without my kids. And I miss ’em.