A tale of two summers: the psychology of work and child’s play

cue up Bryan Adams’ summer of ’69


This summer was the best of times and  it was the worst of times. This summer was both the season of light and the summer of despair.  This summer was the age of silliness and foolery, as well as the age of disbelief.  This summer was the summer of two different tales for mommy and son.

Summertime is supposed to be a time of fun in the sun and casual Fridays.  High heels are to be traded in for flip flops, or so I have heard.  Summertime is supposed to be a time to decompress and rejuvenate. Yet, the summer was at cross-purposes for my son and I.

My son came home on the last day of pre-k with a summer reading list. I had no such thing. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Runaway Bunny” with him repeatedly to the point he now reads it to me.  But I had no Fifty Shades of Gray appointment time or any other summer reading plans, for that matter. Although, my work life was a bit absurdly burlesque.

My son, besides his summer reading time, essentially had a carefree camp experience by going to his nanny’s house everyday this summer.  He got to play with her extended family of nieces and nephews and break in a new swing set.  I, on the other hand, had no such refuge. Day in and day out I went to work for crazy long hours to meet crazy unrealistic expectations. Shackled to the computer, laptop, iPad and cell phone there was no respite.  Even bathroom breaks became quite infrequent. Interestingly, Mayor Bloomberg recently noted that one key to success is having less bathroom breaks. What is next: a bed pan under the desk?

My son enjoyed the culinary delights of pizza, hot dogs and mac/cheese; as well as discovering this thing called ice cream.  Yes, pizza is basically standard children’s food? To my son, however,  it was a grand thing to which to look forward. I, on the other hand, got to eat chicken tenders repeatedly (a food I already knew very well) as the place that serves them is right across the street from work. This provided me with the opportunity to run in and out under ten minutes so I could return to my countless mind-numbing meetings. When lucky, my meetings were via teleconference, affording me the opportunity to both roll my eyes and keep slaving away on other due items. As a result, my palette is a bit off kilter and my insides perhaps a tad bit twisted and grotesque.

My son, while enjoying his summer, still yearns for his schoolmates. He had time to miss them and see things in a new fond way. I didn’t get a chance to miss my co-workers. While even on the short vacation I stole away on to celebrate my son’s birthday, I still checked email. Mind you, I did so because I wanted to. I wanted to make sure I would not be returning  with a bad sunburn to only find that things had gone to hell while I was gone. And no, they had not. Or at least things had not gone horribly hellish, although they had turned a bit kaftaesque.

My son learned to swim, build forts and machine guns (legos that is). I learned to write grants so as to stay afloat. I did start writing poetry so I wouldn’t have to continue to hurt my arm. By the way  I had to undergo three MRIs to figure out my arm pain was a result of migraines.  In a way, my forts came in the guise of a cylinder claustrophobia-inducing machine that played really odd beats leaving me oddly statuesque.

My son discovered digimon and goosebumps; both being kids’ shows that hyped him up. He talks to every tom, dick and harry on the street, at the supermarket and at the pool about their intricate plot twists and feats.  I, on the other hand, have to digitally record my shows of interest, to only fall asleep watching them at midnight despite my cued up interest.  The season finale of Game of Thrones has long since passed, but I have yet to watch it.  Due to internet spoilers,  I already know how it ends. I could say “Cest la vie” but  television is an escapist broiler and red wedding anticipation still leaves me in distress.

My son gained further independence and became more and more comfortable with his ability to question my decisions.  I, on the other hand, had to field such questioning questions both at home and at work. What ever happened to trying to do a good job and learn from one’s boss?   My son got to express himself and I had to keep my cool. I always have to keep my cool no matter who is throwing a temper tantrum at home or at work. I was thus left with little bits of sanity crumbs.

I did get to travel to Hawaii for work, but the trip was excruciatingly long in terms of flight and number of days. I got horrible insect bites and was extremely jet-lagged. Was I convincing enough about how horrible that part of my summer was?  Admittedly, it was a great work trip.  Although, I fiercely missed my baby boy. And that was painful; decidedly leaving me numb.

I could go on for a few more paragraphs and verses of this tale of two summers, but the point has been made. Summers come and go and our roles in them shift and flow.  Experiences will change from summer to summer and so should our expectations.

After living through this summer,  although it was both the worse and best of times, it was a time to grow and develop. The learning never stopped and for that I express gratitude. I gained new skill sets. I also strengthened my voice and won key battles as a result. I learned much about my fortitude and where I hope to go in life. I got to witness a child’s growth. I continue to be in awe of him for he was my awesome possum.  At the end of it all, “it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…” (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)

Categories: childhood, Children, family, work

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