I came home to summer. Hot, humid days and lifeguard chairs that have appeared up and down the beach. What a job, to wander around your one small stretch of beach on Chicago’s far north side all summer, responsible for saving the lives of others. I couldn’t handle that particular blend of tedium and alertness. But: I saw something far worse yesterday. Yes, far, far worse. A job that might make me wonder if I could go on. A man at the Lincoln Park Zoo drives a small train around and around in a circle for little children. How sweet!, you might say. But no, no, you wouldn’t if you saw it. It’s not on a track. And it goes nowhere. It’s not like the one at the San Francisco Zoo that is small but runs all over the zoo past interesting animals and through a couple tunnels. No, this has wheels and a few tiny cars. No adults allowed. And the “engineer” drives in the tightest radius you could imagine. Next time I’ll bring my camera because there’s no way I am describing this as depressing as it is to watch. And yet Lyle is dreaming of turning 3 so he can ride the Train to Nowhere.
But I’ve digressed. It’s summer and I’m so happy. Okay, the heat and humidity don’t do much for me other than make my hair immediately begin to stand on end. So that’s not so fun. But I had high hopes for last summer – home with the boys, lots to do in a new city. And for a whole host of reasons, it just didn’t pan out the way I’d dreamed. This summer, though? This summer, I’m ready. I’m taking some time off from work (this is unprecedented!!) and I know the city better. I’m ready to take the boys on fun outings. I’ve joined the zoo (so we can ride that train as often as we want) and the Field Museum recently, and of course we’ll spend lots of time at the beach. Baxter has tons of friends from school so I will have actual parents to call for play dates this year! We won’t have to skulk around the new neighborhood hoping to run into same-age kids, only to discover that they are in camp or about to go on a 3-week vacation.
But, really, best of all is the idea that in only two more weeks, there will be no more homework. No more carpool. No more after school classes, special projects, gym shoes on gym day, and half days to keep track of. Week by week, the big question will be: “Camp or no camp?” and then we’ll proceed with the same schedule day after day.
And, oh my Lord, I am so ready.