Something has really been irritating me recently.
A parent will post about the challenges they’re facing with their kids during the summer and some other commenter (probably well-meaning, but possibly not) comes along and dismisses them. They write something along the lines of, “It will be a 1980s summer without all today’s bells and whistles. Everyone will be fine, just like we were.”
I really hate seeing that kind of comment. It’s rude. It’s dismissive.
And frankly, it’s just not true.
Yes, our kids will be fine, but can we please stop discounting one another’s struggles and pretending it’s just another 1980s summer? Because it isn’t.
When I grew up in the 1980s (and 1990s), summer break didn’t start in March.
When I grew up in the 1980s, pools weren’t closed.
When I grew up, we knew school would start again 2.5 months later. And we knew what school would look like. There was no talk of distance learning, staggered starts, or last minute homeschooling.
You didn’t need a mask to go to your local Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone (and the number of patrons permitted inside wasn’t limited by anything except the fire code).
You could safely fly to see your grandparents. They could safely fly to see you.
Much anticipated vacations or road trips would be taken as planned. They wouldn’t be cancelled, postponed, or left in limbo to wait and see what happens with a virus.
Summer camps — day camps, sleepaway camps, Girl Scout camps — were open. Playgrounds too.
Pool parties, cook-outs, and block parties were regular occurrences.
If you outgrew your swimsuit, Mom would take you to Kmart, Marshall’s, or wherever you shopped. You’d try on a few until you found one that fit. You didn’t have to order it online or call in for curbside pick-up and just hope for the best.
If your parents worked, they worked. If they stayed home, they stayed home. They didn’t try to work full-time from home and take care of you simultaneously. They likely hadn’t just lost their job (or jobs) completely out of the blue.
You could roam the neighborhood with your friends, with no concern of whether that meant too much contact with someone outside your household.
You didn’t have to think about whether you were maintaining adequate distance between you. And if you were too young to understand such things, your parents didn’t have to worry about it on your behalf.
If you broke a bone (kids will be kids, after all), it was no fun. It was painful, expensive, and the ER wait would be long, but that was it. You didn’t have to worry about exposing your family to a nasty new virus in the waiting room. The ER staff wouldn’t be sporting full protective gear.
Your day-to-day plans weren’t dependent on a weekly 2:00 PM briefing from the governor of your state.
Don’t misunderstand me: it’s certainly not all doom and gloom. Parents will find ways to make sure summer is still enjoyable for their kids.
Popsicles are still in stock.
Garden hoses and sprinklers still exist.
Fun will be had and memories will be made.
Just please stop pretending this is just another regular old summer–because it is anything but.