It’s summer time, and the living ain’t easy. Every year, it seems, I look forward to the end of school, to the end of asking about homework, of making sure there are clean uniforms, of praying Cubs traffic doesn’t make me late to pick up kids from school.
Then school ends in a flurry of events — history fair and class meetings and this year, graduation events — and it looks like a blessed escape to see the last day of school come up on the calendar and the evening events drop away.
Then reality sets in.
Caroline and Frank are old enough to stay home alone sometimes, but not all day everyday. They’d die of boredom if they didn’t kill each other first.
But the days of dropping them off at day camp together, kind of like dropping them off at school together, are long since past. They both have their own interests, and neither wants to spend a whole lot of time on what the other one does.
That makes summer a hodgepodge of different activities and camps, all with different drop-off and pick-up times. I suppose that’s a blessing, since I have yet to learn to bilocate.
This week, for example, Caroline is in drama camp at a local high school from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Frank is at a baseball camp in a nearby park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Teresa’s sitter is a couple of miles away. That means the days I leave for work early, Tony loads up the bus (really an eight-year-old Honda) and drops Caroline at her camp, Teresa at the sitter and heads back to the neighborhood to drop Frank at the park before heading to work.
I leave for the day at 2:30 and do the whole thing in reverse, starting with Frank at the park, then Teresa at the sitter and Caroline at drama camp. I don’t usually walk in the door until close to two hours after I leave the office, without ever leaving the city limits. It will get worse later in the summer when Frank is going to the suburbs for hockey camp.
The weeks they don’t go to camp are much easier logistically, but they do get bored.
The only one who maintains her routine with few changes is Teresa, who still goes to see her Nana the same days for about the same length of time. But even she feels the change; she keeps taking attendance at home: “Caroline here? Frank here? Dada here? Mama here? Teresa here?”
It reminds me of the story of Jesus staying in Jerusalem as a boy, and Mary and Joseph not realizing he wasn’t with them for a while. I can totally understand how that would happen: “I thought he was with you!” “I thought he was with you!”
Now I use the time in the car to think and to pray … and to make sure I know where I’m going, and who I’m supposed to pick up there.
Martin is assistant editor of the Catholic New World. Contact her at email@example.com.