I can’t believe we start school tomorrow. Like a lot of parents, we were thrown into a bit of whirlwind back in March when the impending pandemic lead to school closures. Our teachers scrambled to figure out how to teach our third grader and kindergartner, but finished strong. It took some adjusting on my part, but I feel like the boy and I got into a pretty solid groove eventually and the girl pretty much guided her own ship. Even with that, though, it felt like summer would never come. Now, three months later, I can’t believe it’s over!
How did we spend our summer vacation? Mostly by staying inside or in our yard. I wrote about this a bit already, but my wife worked from home that whole time and I’ve had a pretty solid flow of freelance this whole time. Plus, even though my folks live in town, we didn’t open up our circle to them and my wife’s folks until around Father’s Day. So, we had a lot of days where I was sneaking in bits and pieces of work while also making never-ending trips to the kitchen for the children and keeping them away from my wife’s video calls.
Speaking of video calls, I love them! See, I don’t have to do any for my work, so they are purely fun for me. I’ve done a few with my friends from high school and even rigged up a way to play Trivial Pursuit. We’ve also been pretty good about setting up a mostly-weekly call with the friends we made through my wife’s work. The most consistent digital gathering, though, has been with the ex-Wizard crew. Every week we have a video call and then watch a movie together. At first we used Netflix Party, but then Amazon Video launched their own built-in party mode! Both allow you to synch the movie up for all those watching and also gives you a chat room to type messages to each other. It’s usually the highlight of my week.
Aside from that, though, we haven’t seen anyone in person. Opening our circle to grandparents not only helped spread some of the childcare around this summer, but also opened us up to a few trips that otherwise would not have happened as we are doing everything we can to keep the immunocompromised members of my family safe. On two separate occasions, we went to visit my in-laws who moved to Rhode Island at the very beginning of this year. It was nice to go someplace that wasn’t here. We even took a trip to the beach during the week. We would have bailed had it been too crowded, but it looked safe enough, so we had some fun in the sun.
Another time, my folks rented an RV — one of the last available in the whole area from what I understand — and we all drove out to their place in Michigan. This was the only way we could figure to make the trip without having to stop and risk contamination at a rest stop. To avoid unnecessary trips to the store, we also bought all of our food ahead of time and jammed that thing with everything we thought we might need or want. Once there, we were able to relax and even had a socially distant visit with my grandparents, but kept it very isolated.
Beyond that, though, it’s been a lot of sitting around! Well, I did grow a beard, we totally redid Lucy’s room and I’ve dealt with crazy water issues in the garage as well as a faulty gutter, but the rest has been pretty mundane. It’s been hot here in New York this summer (not as bad as L.A. right now, which sounds miserable to someone like me who already runs pretty hot), so going out in our non-shaded backyard was not really an option for huge chunks of the day. We did finally go on a hike last week on the grounds of the nature-oriented pre-school the kids used to go to. It was gorgeous and we realized we probably should have done it more often, especially because the kids — who usually complain about walking more than 50 feet — loved it!
I’m trying hard not to leave this summer behind littered with regrets like that. I think we need to take it easy on ourselves during this crazy time, so I’m going to try and not beat myself up too much about not engaging with the kids more and letting them watch so much damn YouTube…or maybe I will…just a little. With virtual school kicking off tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of other things to worry about!