A Single Parent’s Natural Summertime Habitat

Can I have those shoes, please?

You may have noticed my lack of posts of late. I am experiencing that vortex of time known as summer vacation – the one where you find yourself cleaning the kitchen five times a day, tidying the fifteen pairs of shoes by the door, relinquishing the basement to balls of sleeping bags and the smell of teen sweat, flipping 30 pancakes on a Tuesday morning and yelling at the kids at midnight to go to sleep already, and then waking up, bleary eyed at 6:30am cajoling that same kid out of bed for soccer camp, hoping that you won’t be met with a barrage of wails and tears, complaints of phantom stomach pain and so-called sprained ankles.

Yup, love summer.

The single parent, in her natural habitat requires a certain number of hours per day of alone time. Its how they maintain a certain amount of sanity. Those precious school hours are where the single parent is able to work without the background soundtrack of Housewives of New Jersey. He/she is not required to drop everything in order to drive to [choose one or more: camp, mall, drugstore, summer workplace, beach, pool, sleepover pickup, driver’s ed, DOT, jail]. The single parent must adapt quickly to new summer routines, that change on a daily basis. Any plans, even those made months in advance must often be relinquished in order to accommodate the child who suddenly refuses to go to camp because they [choose one or more: have no friends there, suck at [sport of choice], its too hot, cold, boring, exhausting, long, short, the counselors are dumb, stupid, boring, arrogant, lazy, child suddenly comes down with: sprained ankle, diarrhea, sniffly nose, stomach ache, headache, pulled groin, bruises, child just wants to have a quiet day at home, needs to rest [meaning: play violent video games], have worked so hard at school and “need a break.”

To combat the potential of a house falling into chaos, or of winding up in a mental institution during the long months ahead, the single parent must resort to: ordering pizza, taking dog for longer than usual walks, allowing the liberal use of violent video games, watch bad late-night summer TV in an attempt to stay awake until curfew, learn to write blog posts to the sound of MTV blaring in the background, close door on room that is promised on a daily basis to be clean before they leave for [mall, beach, friend’s house], not plan errands around camp drop offs because they don’t happen due to [see list above].

Inevitably, the single parent will make the grave mistake of planning the summer vacation with the kids imagining it to be a bucolic holiday filled with laughter and BBQ and rainy days reading together on the couch, exploration and education in art galleries, museums, landmarks, European countries. The reality will be faces glowing in a bluish tint, backs humped over tiny electronic devices in dank hotel rooms while outside the window will be a backdrop of [choose one or more: Eiffel Tower, beach, perfect sunny day, Hawaiian surfers, carnivals, hiking trail, cottage lake, colorful gardens]. Only when the parent resorts to threats of death do children resentfully venture outside usually to proclaim how [boring, stupid, lame, annoying] and feature of interest that parent might point out and to complain about how [boring, stupid, lame, annoying] this whole trip is, and why did you book it in the first place. If there is more than one child, there will be fighting, bickering, whining, based on who gets the front seat of the car, who gets the window seat in the plane, who gets the blue, and who gets the yellow, who gets the cot and who has to sleep in the same bed with parent, who gets to use the shower first, what TV program is watched, who gets to use charger first because the other forgot their charger. Single parent will be forced to escape, alone to the [choose one or more: pool, bar, trail, insane asylum] and wonder what the &*$# they were thinking when they booked the trip in the first place.

Ah yes, summertime. So many memories made…

This message brought to you by the coalition of single parents making it through summer.

4 Comments

  1. Kristine July 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Do you mean I’m not the only one? Why do I persist in thinking summer will be a respite? Now I don’t feel like such an outlier! Thanks for writing this!

  2. jill July 4, 2011 at 7:37 am

    oh, have I been there! I am not a single parent anymore (I remarried) but when I was: this sounds just like my summers 🙂

  3. Debra July 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Oh…what guts and little glory, at least now…Yet you will be able to trot these stories out in another 20 yrs to howls of laughter…CONGRATS!

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