Weekend Wanderer: Are We Doing Too Much This Summer?

Wendi Rank
By

If I’ve made the mistake I think I’ve made, I’m in deep trouble.

My mistake was not in telling the tale of my movie buddy’s ill-timed cough. She’s still talking to me. No harm done.

Thankfully.

Nor was my mistake in telling my husband he loads the dishwasher like a maniac. He lays the coffee mugs on their sides. That puts him on the same level as Hannibal Lecter and his How To Serve Mankind cookbook. When I call him out on his depravity, I am doing the world a favor.

The mistake I think I’ve made concerns this summer. I’ve filled it with enough activities to keep my family bustling from dawn until dusk. I wanted us to use the time as recovery from everything the pandemic sent awry.

School, for example. It seems like every school district in the country is planning summer enrichment. Educators largely see this school year as anemic. With seven months as a homeschooler under my belt, am I really qualified to disagree?

No. I’m only qualified to recognize potential homicidal tendencies through dishwasher loading techniques.

Another concern is the months without climbing steps at school or playing dodgeball in phys ed. It’s turned the kids into modern-day Shaggys.

The Scooby-Doo character, not the musician.

If my kids need to run from a neighbor masquerading as a ghost in some questionable scheme to get us to sell our house, they will be out of luck and easily caught.

Lastly, exposure to sunlight has been as anemic as the school year. I usually avoid the sun. Just typing the word gives me a burn and maybe some cancer.

But my kids at the moment are so pale, they could masquerade as ghosts and scare my neighbors into selling their houses. Who knew that walk home from the bus 180 days every year exposed them to so much UV radiation?

I thought I could fix everything with tutoring over the summer. Swim team, too. Pandemic problems, solved.

As it turns out, all of that summer activity might cause some psychological harm, which I only saw in The New York Times after the plans were made and paid for. I’ll bet the damage from my summer revamp forges two more aberrant dishwasher loaders by the time September rolls around.

According to the article, mental health needs quietude to rebound. You should ruminate. Ponder. That thoughtfulness might heal your emotional strife.

So now you understand the depth of my mistake.

My one opportunity to correct my error is our August vacation. Our typical family trip is what I call a working vacation. We visited London in 2019, where we walked 11,000 steps a day and learned about everything from the ancient Romans to Darwin to the Renaissance to Brexit.

Before that was Wyoming, where we learned that sometimes bison do in fact fall through the fragile ground around Yellowstone’s hot springs and that dry heat makes the kids’ grandmother use loads of swear words.

Our trip this year was calculated to be a bit more relaxed, a getaway to the secret Outer Banks oasis my family has visited for fifty years.

I was conceived there. That’s awful to know – unless you’re my parents, who think it’s a charming story.

It’s not.

Despite the traumatizing knowledge of my origins, I find our island tranquil. Sitting on the beach is the order of the day.

That piece in The Times suggests nature as the catalyst for sorting through your experiences and restoring your mental aptitude.

Communing with nature is as simple as sitting on the beach. But it’s also sunrises and hikes. Flora and fauna. Catching frogs and dodging raindrops.

I really wish time with a good streaming service was the brain’s key to recovery. But as good as Bridgerton may be, I’m never thinking about what life lesson I learned yesterday when Rege-Jean Page is hanging around.

Lucky for me, my little island is loaded with opportunities to be one with Mother Nature. That being one with Mother Nature means likely being eaten by an alligator gains no traction with my husband. He might be unhinged when it comes to dishes, but he is amazingly practical when it comes to the outdoors.

He says I won’t get eaten by an alligator. But when the state’s compendium of reptiles is a website called “Herps of NC” and boasts alligators six to sixteen feet in length, I grow a bit doubtful.

The snake situation is no better.

A nature walk at Fort Macon might be better for everyone than, say sitting on the beach for ten hours. One trail at Fort Macon is named after Elliot Coues. He was so outdoorsy there’s a subset of deer that bears his name. The Elliot Coues Trail courses through ponds and marshes.

Guess where North Carolinian alligators like to hang out?

So now that I’m fully mired in my mistake, I have a decision before me: Do I want my kids to be felonious dishwasher-loaders? Or do I want to get eaten by an alligator?

I have three months to decide.

If there’s no Weekend Wanderer come Labor Day, you’ll know which way I went.

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