All of our kids had their school year cut short without notice and then had what will probably be the strangest, loneliest summer. We all hope they won’t have to experience anything like it again. But as we say goodbye (and good riddance!) to the summer of 2020, I find myself reflecting on the small yet memorable moments we shared. Moments we might only have shared under these conditions that forced us all to slow down and stay home more than we ever have.
Here are the five memories I hope my kids (currently 2 years old and 7 years old) will remember about the summer of COVID-19:
1. We had a car parade.
Like many others, my son’s elementary school coordinated a car parade to lead us all into summer. What made this one special for our family is dad got to participate with the kids this time while I was volunteering for the event. I just wish I had gotten a picture of the three of them in the car to document the occasion!
2. We helped others.
Twice this summer we were able to volunteer with Meals on Wheels to deliver to seniors and those in need. My mom even came along to help with the kids and we made it a family affair. On the second route my oldest was able to greet some of the folks we served and we were reminded that even those brief, socially distanced interactions might bring a smile to someone’s face in addition to a nutritious meal.
Another short volunteer gig my oldest and I did was sorting and bagging books with the SAISD Foundation for our school district’s summer distribution to students. I’ve told my oldest over and over during this pandemic, what I want him to remember about this time when he gets older is that we helped people. We may not be rich but we can always try to help others with our time and service in addition to material donations.
3. We swang, and sometimes we swang and talked.
Some of the most joyous moments I have with both kiddos are the evenings we spent swinging in our backyard. I want to remember how my two-year-old, in his fearless ways, taught himself how to pop right up into the swing. How he’d ask, “Gimme my boost, Daddy!” And how Dad would swing him high and he smiled without any hesitation.
Other nights I swang, or at least sat on the swings, until late the in the evening (it’s summer after all!) with my oldest son and we talked about life. We talked about the protests happening around the country, we talked about civil rights and racism, we talked about the pandemic, we talked about our ancestors, and we talked about helping others. I loved those talks.
4. We had lots of sprinkler and kiddie pool time.
This one was sort of a mixed bag, if I’m being totally honest! Usually my intention would start with trying to keep the kids occupied while I sat on the back patio with my laptop and tried to get some work done. “Tried” is the key word there! So many times I would end up more frustrated playing referee between the two of them than if I would have just let them sit in front of the television and watch yet another PBS show. But, we were grateful to have a pool in a summer of high demand for kiddie pools!
5. We enjoyed nature.
Summers prior to this year were often spent at Hemisfair. The kids and I would go play early in the day and come home in time for lunch. But since that wasn’t an option during the summer of COVID-19, we put our Texas State Park Pass to more use than we’ve done in years past. Our favorite getaway was Guadalupe River State Park. The kids got a kick out of driving the hills of Blanco Road all the way to the park. “Whoa!” and “here it comes!” the kids would say to each other and giggle as we went up and down the road. We started going later in the day when there were fewer people at the park and more room to play. My favorite memory was spending our wedding anniversary as a family at the river. Catching tadpoles, tiny frogs, and minnows, watching vultures fly over the river, and even tracking a few armadillos as they came out of the brush for dinner. That will be a special memory for all of us.
The outdoors and nature helped us get through this summer. We would have loved to go to the beach but we’ll wait for a better time as our coastal community struggles with COVID-19.
While the summer of COVID-19 often felt like a free fall and I longed for more structure, I now find myself nostalgic for the simple, unstructured times we were able to spend as a family. I don’t take for granted how lucky my husband and I were to be able to work from home this entire time. I don’t take for granted how we are lucky to both still have jobs. And I don’t take for granted how grateful I am that summer in our little circle was COVID-free.
What are the simple memories you will hold onto from the summer of COVID-19?