This summer brought parenting highs and lows to match the weather and my toddler’s ever-changing mood.
Once this summer warmed up, I found cooling down to be difficult. Here’s where we tried to enjoy ourselves in the hot weather — and found failure more than once:
1. The beach
During our first beach excursion of the summer, my son decided he doesn’t like being sandy. He immediately started crying and staring at the sand stuck between his fingers as if disaster had struck. After all the time we spent lathering on sunscreen, squeezing into swimsuits, and affixing his hat at just the right angle so he wouldn’t pull it off, my son was done. Even though we made sure we had enough snacks and water and towels and toys, that was it. We had the rest of the day free, with nothing to do but sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home while listening to our toddler tantrum.
This was all supposed to be fun. Where did we go wrong? It was a perfect beach day on paper. We planned our beach trip around the coolest time on the hottest day. We scheduled our drive to avert nap disaster and beach traffic. Despite our best efforts, we somehow committed a parenting failure.
2. The pool
It was a scorcher the other day, so I decided to take my son to the local pool after preschool. When we arrived, I could see lots of people on the pool deck, but no one was swimming. I knew the lifeguards often check the chemical levels of the pool, and sometimes there are 15-minute breaks from swimming when they have to readjust the chemicals.
With swimwear, water, snacks, and towels in tow, we headed to the bathhouse. The inside of the bathhouse was almost enough to turn me away. The floor was covered in a thin layer of sludge. Pool and shower water combined with dirt to create a biohazard. After we changed at the speed of lightning, we moved to the shower stalls. When I turned on the faucet, a small drip fell, and we attempted to shower under it. When I decided we were as wet as possible under the circumstances, we headed toward the pool.
The pool entrance was blocked by a gate. We turned around and were face to face with a woman who looked at us with pity. “The pool is closed for cleaning for the next hour. I think it’s all the sunscreen.” No cooling off for us. As we exited the bathhouse, my toddler screamed, “I wanna go to the pool!” over and over. In 101-degree heat, I tried to hustle my unmoving son along, back into the four-wheeled AC oasis. “It’s too hot for this,” I thought.
But all is not lost in summer parenting.
After many failed visits, we kept attempting the beach, over and over, and it got better. One day, my son was over the beach drama and ready to revel in its beauty. And just like that, it changed.
As the summer ends, hitting up the beach and other bodies of water is easier. And as with everything in childhood, I know that whatever happens, it’s probably just a phase. So we’ll head back to the community pool one morning, when the chemicals are fresh and balanced, and try again. Hopefully, like our beach experiences, it will get better.