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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

give me a summer break

Here’s the thing about summer breaks.  They are great.  Everything about them is great.  The long, leisurely days.  The hot sun.  The super fun play dates.  The endless daylight.  Day camp!  Like I said, great!

If you’re a kid.

If you’re a parent, summer breaks include all the ingredients of a nightmare.  Long, leisurely days equals really bored, whiny kids.  A hot sun means gobs of extra sunscreen on bored, whiny kids.  Super fun play dates require endless amounts of parental energy to make them super and/or fun.  Too much daylight keeps kids wide awake hours after they should be dead asleep.  And then there’s day camp.  The middle of the night on-line registration because your son has to has to has to be in Rocket Launcher camp, the inflated fees, the lack of parking for drop-off and then again at pick-up, and the reality that the kids are not there long enough during the day for it to be called “day” camp and should instead be called “a couple hours in the morning” camp.  You see, and I’ll say it, as great as summer breaks is for kids, they can be completely exhausting for the parents of the kids. 

Me.  I’m talking about me. 

Now times that by two.  Not by two children.  Which I do have.   But by two summer breaks.  One full summer break (with two children) followed immediately after with another full summer break (with the same aforementioned two children).  And now you’re reading a page from my tear-filled diary.

My children weren’t supposed to have two summer breaks.  They were supposed to have one.  Like every other kid on this one-summer-break-per-kid planet but then the unthinkable happened.  At the end of May 2010, just before Summer Break One (which will from here on out be called SB1) was to happen, my husband came home and told me he got a job offer.  My simple “where?” was knocked off its feet with a “not in this city, state, country or hemisphere.”  After my brain temporarily shut down and my mouth spat out “Mexico?!” my husband spared me further embarrassment and told me the answer.  The answer was so not Mexico because it was too busy being New Zealand.

New Zealand!!!

Don’t try to imagine what took place next because you can’t.  My husband took the job and flew to Auckland the next month to start.  And left me.  Alone.  With the kids.  And the city of Los Angeles.  And (gulp…) SB1.  Everything that was hard about summer breaks was now fifty-four thousand times harder because I was doing it by myself.  The relentlessness of the days.  The sunscreen battles.  It was Groundhog’s Day with SPF30.  Every day, my children were shocked that I wanted to apply sunscreen to their (gasp!) faces.  Play dates!  I actually appreciated the play dates because they meant I wasn’t the only source of entertainment for my children but, since I’m on a complaining rampage, the PLAY DATES!   And the stupid three-hours-out-of-twenty-four-is-not-day-camp day camp.   I was exhausted by day two.  Luckily, summer break is only three months so I had only 88 more days to go.  And I had to pack up the entire house.  Shoot me with a Nerf gun. 

I barely survived.  If Jeff Probst knew I existed, he would’ve given me a lit torch and then immediately put it out.   

But I did survive.  With the help of friends, family and buckets of wine.  And somehow, we all ended up in New Zealand.  At the, ahem, end of September.  Now, if you’re following along with your school-issued calendar, this means I got three extra bonus weeks of SB1.  (Note to future moving-to-New-Zealand-from-LA-at-the-end-of-September families, you’re strongly advised not to enroll your children in school because it would be too disruptive to start school and then pull them out after only three weeks.  To them.)  But there we were.  In Auckland.  And it was beautiful and quiet and air so clean you could breathe it and… school was on a break.  My kids couldn’t start until October 11th.  So, tack on a few more weeks to SB1.  But it was okay.  What’s two more weeks after three months and three weeks?  It’s four months and a week is what it is.  Still, the break was soon over and the boys were FINALLY in school.  I ran around my rental house naked and joyous.  For about four seconds until I realized this was one son’s school’s 4th term.  It was to last only six weeks and then…

Summer.  Bleeping.  Break.  TWO!

I had SB1 from June through mid-October and was now about to have SB2 from December through February.  Where is Jeff Probst when you need him??? 

In a blink of a very tired eye, I found myself knee deep in SB2.  And it sucked way more than SB1 did.  Time on this side of the equator goes by very slowly so our days seemed like fortnights.  Ozone layer?  Not so much over here.  So, every morning I threatened death or sunscreen.  Our play dates were neither super nor fun because we didn’t have any because we had no friends.  And “day camp” was me refereeing two little boys fighting in a trolley at a grocery store mid-day.   SB2 was brutal.

Jeff Probst was oblivious. 

But somehow I survived.  You know what they say, what doesn’t kill you.  I was as strong as an ox who ate an ox who could lift an ox.  Don’t examine that sentence too much because it may not work.  My point is, it is the 1st of March and there are no children here.  Because they’re in school.  And not on summer break.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t naked and joyous.  Okay, maybe not naked.  Our rental house was furnished with clear fiberglass chairs from Italy and I’ve had two children that way.  But I am joyous and I intend to stay that way.  And when we return to the States?  We’re coming back at the very end of the month of August.  Hear that, summer break!

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