Since my husband is deployed, he doesn’t remember how the end of the school year changes our family life. I am suddenly pea green with envy every time I look at these kids.
“It’s the video games,” says my husband. “They have so much time to do nothing. Muster them out and assign them a chore or something.”
Sadly, we do not “muster” around here. And the kids do chores already. Here are my top ten reasons I am telling my sailor why I envy our kids:
1. I envy their real freedom. The end of school means my fifth grader has something my husband and I will never have: a real end of responsibility. When school lets out, all work really and truly stops. There are no emails piling up for him at school. The worksheets do not grow mountainous on his little desk. The principal does not call claiming to “forget” he was on vacation. His work is complete. Such joy, rapture, even.
2. I envy their stamina. There is my boy outside right now running around with a Nerf gun. Sprinting. Crouching. Jumping. Hiding. I get winded at Wal-mart. Is that fair?
3. I envy what they eat. When I was a kid, I could never understand why my mom wouldn’t get her own ice cream cone but would take a bite of mine. I thought it was maybe we couldn’t afford all those cones. Now I know that what she couldn't afford was the calories. Sigh.
4. I envy them their grandparents. When I was 11, all my darling grandparents were alive. They thought I was funny. They thought I was cute. They let me run around with filthy bare feet and slam the screen door all I wanted. They thought I needed more ice cream. And a kitten.
5. I envy their cousins. Summer is the time military kids go and visit their cousins. Ours were just a little older so they had games we had never heard of and secrets we didn't know. Now my cousins talk about work and kids and the Republican party on Facebook. Why is that?
6. I envy their tolerance for cold water. We swam every summer in an unheated pool in Great Falls, Montana. Now the rule is that Mommy doesn’t get in the water until the 4th of July.
7. I envy their dry clean towels. Their stacks of bathing suits. The snacks that magically appear in the beach bag. I envy the way my kids are never even curious about how all that happens. That is OK. They’ll get their turn.
8. I envy their sleevelessness. I once owned a green halter that was made of nothing but a couple of strings and a pink Peace symbol. Now even going sleeveless is an act of courage, desperation and a slavish devotion to Spanx.
9. I envy their summer romances to come. I’d like to be kissed for their first time again. Shoot, this deep into the deployment I think a lot about summer kissing--starting on Homecoming Day.
10. I envy the way the deployment sits lightly upon them. In our family, summer is about mommy and kids doing the pool and the beach and friends and errands. Then Dad comes home for dinner. The summer means that the schedule stretches in such a way that they don’t think of Dad until bedtime--when I have thought of him all day long.
I know I am being silly. I know that that we color our pasts with a magic marker that burnishes our joys and dulls our heartaches. We forget what the long days of nothing to do are really like. How boring life is when your friends go on vacation. What it means not to have any money or drive yourself around.
But in the week school ends and summer vacation begins, I still like to dream just a little. And plan for an end to this deployment so the summer can really begin.