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Summer has arrived. This season of sunshine and warm weather is a favorite for many; however, the emotions, associations and experiences conjured by the onset of summer are different for children and their parents.

The first thing that summertime brings to a child’s mind is, “School’s out!” Almost three whole months of summer break stretches out before kids like an eternity, with no scratchy clothes, no buses, no homework, no lunch trays, no scary vice principals. Only comfy shorts and shirts printed with blue sharks or pink unicorns, worn with flip-flops. Popsicles and sno-cones. Orange tongues. Sticky fingers.

Sunny days at the community pool. Swim lessons. Whistling lifeguards that are scary, but also kinda cool. Double dares on the diving board. Floating Band-Aids and dead bugs. Blue lips and goggle marks. Concession stands. Not being able to swim for a half hour after lunch because Mom doesn’t want you to get cramps. Seeing rainbows around lights on the way home.

Special trips. Long car rides. “Are we there yet?” Lunch at Cracker Barrel. Crayons and paper placemats. Too many French fries. Throwing up on Route 95. Motel pools and mouse ears. Hot dogs and pizza slices. Blue raspberry slushes with whipped cream on top. Roller coasters and log rides. Throwing up in the parking lot.

Hot, lazy afternoons back home with nothing to do. Fans whirring. Dogs panting. Bees buzzing. Dandelion bouquets for Mom. Lying in the hammock with Dad.

Goofing off in line at local soft serve joints. Rainbow sprinkles. Chasing moths that circle the lights. Dropped napkins and dripping ice cream. Wondering, “Why would anyone order a cup when they can get a cone?”

Scooters and bikes in the cul-de-sac at dusk. Stubbed toes, scraped knees and salty tears. Fireflies, fire pits and flaming marshmallows. Dirty fingernails. Warm baths. Soft pajamas. The feeling of being carried to bed, eyes closed, draped over a parent’s shoulder. Dreaming of peg-legged pirates and mermaid princesses.

For parents, summer is a welcome change from the school year grind too, but it’s not necessarily a break from responsibilities like it is for kids. Camp registration forms must be filled out. Summer leagues must be joined. Car pools must be arranged. Grass must be cut. Vacation weeks must be planned. New bathing suits must be tried on in harshly-lit department store dressing rooms with unforgiving fun-house mirrors. Dog sitters must be arranged. Cumbersome window air conditioners must be carried up basement stairs. Sunscreen must be applied, and re-applied, then re-applied again.

Summertime is also the season of packing for parents. Packing towels, sunglasses, hats, swim shirts, water bottles, goggles, floaties, toys and a book just in case you get a break while the kids are swimming. Packing clean clothing for sleepaway camp — labeled clearly with kids’ names — along with bug spray, first aid kits, asthma inhalers, and a dozen pages of signed release forms and emergency contact paperwork, knowing that all (with the exception of missing socks and the addition of someone else’s shorts) will come back in a week needing to be washed. Packing the car with kids, suitcases, board games, boogie boards, coolers, fishing poles, favorite blankets, Dramamine, extra sets of keys and a “tinkle jar” just in case the rest area is too far away.

Parents work hard throughout the year, and summertime is no exception. However, summer offers its special brand of joys to those parents willing to carve out time to enjoy them.

Sneaking a nap in the sun while Dad watches the kids swim. Ripe watermelon slices. The glint of sea glass along the shore. Dandelions in a cup on the kitchen windowsill. The aroma of freshly-cut lawns, blooming jasmine, smokey barbecues. The bursting sweetness of hot, buttered corn on the cob. The feeling of sand between your toes. Finding a shell in your pocket. Lawn chairs in the backyard with neighbors. The crisp bite of cold beer. Watching your children’s upturned faces flash with color and wonder at fireworks cascading in the night sky.

Carrying your sleeping child, warm, weighty and fulfilled, off to bed, to dream of peg-legged pirates and mermaid princesses.

Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email: meatandpotatoesoflife@gmail.com


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