Day 33: Summer?

April 29, 2020

Summer’s creeping closer and we have no plan.

There’s no vacation booked.

The 21-year-old, who was supposed to intern at a congressional office in Washington, D.C., will be living at home, instead. Just like he’s been here since March, instead of studying in Ghana. No idea at all how he’ll fill those three months. If I ask him, he changes the subject.

The 19-year-old obsessively tracks news about sleep-away camps. He was supposed to be a counselor and song leader at our family’s beloved Jewish camp, Gindling Hilltop. Last year, Hilltop and its sister camp, Hess Kramer, had to scramble after a fire burned down their longtime Malibu homes. But the camps persevered, and found a new, temporary spot on the campus of Cal State Channel Islands in Camarillo. It seemed like the worst was behind them — until the coronavirus hit. Now our son waits each day to see what camp administrators will decide. If camp is cancelled, he says, he’ll stay home and do more trombone practice (really? that’s even possible?) and take a gen ed class or two at Santa Monica College. He seems kind of excited about the possibility — until someone tells him camp might be on, and then a new light sparks in his eyes.

The 16-year-old’s grand summer plan was to get a job at Brooke Rodd, a women’s clothing boutique on Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica, about a 15 minute bus ride from our house. The lovely ladies at Brooke Rodd didn’t know about her dream, but it didn’t seem like an unreasonable ambition to me. Now Brooke Rodd has been closed since mid-March. When they re-open, if they re-open, will they want a rising high school junior whose resume consists of babysitting jobs and a stint as a teacher’s assistant in the four-year-old classroom at Temple Isaiah’s religious school?

My mantra these days is Try Not to Worry. I do, I really do try. But it’s nearly May 1st. The 19-year-old is one final away from finishing his freshman year of college. Tomorrow, he’ll have nothing but time on his hands. In a few weeks, his sister will follow.

The 21-year-old has a few essays due to Ghanian professors to wrap up his credits from there. In the meantime, he continues to ride his bike.

All three of our kids are ambitious. At the moment, the middle one channels that into his music classes and trombone playing. Our youngest is determined to slay her A.P. exams. The oldest has nothing to prove these days — the essays are pretty easy and straightforward — so, it seems, he created something. Once a week, every week, he bikes a little further.

Today he rode from our house to Agoura, down to Malibu, and up Temescal home. Here are his stats, for those of you who are into such things:

I’m grateful he’s found such a productive way to take these lemons and make lemonade. I hope the summer, for all three of them, goes this smoothly. The hardest part — for me, anyway — is I don’t know how bad it’s going to be. Will we only have to make minor adjustments? Will the summer be just like the spring — which feels unbearable? (Though I know I will bear it, because there’s no other choice.)

Usually, when one of them pops up against a new obstacle, either their dad or I has been there before, and has some advice to offer. But we’ve never seen this before, either.

We may all be groping through the dark together.

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