Michelle Martin

What’s summer vacation?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

That was Teresa’s question when I told her that her last day of school for the year would be June 5, and after that would be summer vacation.

I’m guessing that she had visions of road trips and hotels and water parks, and there will be some of that this summer. There will be trips to the park and the pool and the zoo, and once the lake warms up just a bit, mornings at the beach.

There will also be days at her sitter’s house, just like before she started preschool, and days at home, helping clean the bathrooms and water the flowers. There also will be time in the sprinkler and in the plastic kiddie pool, which, truth be told, is getting a bit small for her. And there will be bubbles, lots of bubbles.

There will be painting, with kid-safe colors on paper in the kitchen and with chalk on the sidewalk, and probably a bit more SpongeBob SquarePants than is good for her. This is likely the year that we will sign her up for summer reading at the library.

I don’t think I understood this when Caroline and Frank were small, but these years when summer vacation is just that — a vacation — are precious. Soon there will be day camp, or sports camps or theater camps or camps for whatever interests she develops. In time, scheduling the summer will be more challenging than the school year, when she needs to be kept busy and a trip to the playground just won’t keep her engaged any more.

We’re fortunate that her babysitter, a surrogate grandmother who has cared for Teresa since infancy, is available to care for her when she’s not in school, so the family schedule remains more or less the same. The bigger kids, ironically, have outgrown most “camp” activities; now there are “enrichment” classes and volunteer jobs that they can often get to and from on their own. One of these years, a paid summer job would be nice to develop independence, too.

For the adult portion of the family, of course, there is no officially recognized “summer vacation.” Nobody pays me if I don’t work, and those aforementioned “enrichment activities” don’t come cheap. But my schedule doesn’t have me in the office every day, and nice weather invites Teresa and I to spend our time more outdoors than in. To be honest, it feels like a vacation to be able to leave the house without having to add three extra layers of clothing, both for myself and for Teresa.

We all need time to rest and recharge; even Jesus took time to get away from the crowds and even his disciples.

Here’s hoping everybody can find some time to do that this summer. If it involves lawn chairs, popsicles and your feet in a plastic wading pool, so much the better.


  • michelle martin
  • family room