I’m too young to remember The Summer Of Sam. But that slogan doesn’t have positive connotations….
So I find it weird to see people tagging their social media pics with #summerofava or #summerofolivia or #summerofliam or #summerofwhoever.
I get it. You’re down a kid for the summer thanks to Sleepaway camp, and the younger sibling(s) gets showered with all the love and attention they never received having been unlucky enough to not be born first. (Can you tell I’m a first born?)
We clearly miss our campers while they’re gone. But heck- life has to go on, and there is no better time to live it up than when it’s 85 and sunny almost every day. There is no sports practice, no homework, no work- oh wait, there’s always work. Bummer. But it’s summer, and it’s time to be carefree and relish family time outdoors with whomever is left.
It’s the summer of the others. But something’s off. The family balance is skewed. The chemistry is all wrong. We don’t feel like celebrating. Sparrow doesn’t like the attention on him. He doesn’t want to step up and be the big brother to Lark, who expects entertainment at all times thanks to the precedent set by her bigger brother Finch. In fact, he finds her downright pesky. Intolerable, actually. Which brings on the bickering, and the whining, and the inevitable screaming of “stop interrupting me” and “give me the remote” and then we top it off with my classy three year old’s piercing “shut your mouth”. Who even says that?
Sparrow- no longer under the radar as the middle child often is- doesn’t get away with not brushing his teeth, or lallygagging in his boxer briefs way longer than normal when he is supposed to get dressed, or playing his DS at least 10 minutes past the repeated 1 minute warnings. He stands in the shower without bossy direction of which body part to wash, or a reminder to rinse out his hair. He writes letters to his brother, more verbose than any kindergarten assignment, and with more “I love you’s” than we hear all year.
Lark’s temper tantrums flare up faster and last longer than normal because no one is around to distract her with slapstick humor and wrestling moves. No one laughs at her dinner table antics and encourages her mischief. No one helps her with the final click of her carseat that she insists on buckling herself. No one dresses her up in his basketball jerseys that double as fancy dresses on a small fry like herself. She’s lost, and she keeps asking where is Finch because she doesn’t remember we went through this last summer too. She cries when the 7 minute phone call is up and she doesn’t get a proper goodbye.
And we’re lonely too. Our original little buddy is off having adventures without us. Sure, we’re yelling less because there is just less parenting to do. But we might be laughing a little less too. We’re enjoying the other two, but it’s a wistful, bittersweet type of happiness. We live for the night time, but not because we’re going out dancing. That’s when camp pictures get posted and we get to see his smiling face and imagine what his day was like. And on those painful nights when he doesn’t appear before a camera, we tell ourselves it’s because he was having so much fun he never even stopped to notice a photographer. He’s busy growing, and learning, and gaining so much confidence he could burst! We might burst too- with both pride, and longing.
So yeah, we’re traveling a little lighter for 7 weeks, and our #summerofspark (see what I did there?) hashtags reflect that online, but make no mistake. While we’re watching fireworks and overdosing on Ralph’s ices, we’re missing a spark of our own. Can’t wait till we “fall” back together.