Summer plans simply bring family together

June 13, 2013|Alicia Notarianni | Making Ends Meet

It’s that time of year.

School’s out. Moms run into other moms at the grocery store. They say, “How are you?” and then they pop the question. It’s the default question that seems to be in the hard drive of suburban, middle-class moms.

“What are YOUR plans for summer?”

Most ask just to make conversation. Some ask because they are interested in you and your family, and trying to learn more of what you are about. Then there are those few who seem to use the question as a barometer to measure their own parenting and to re-affirm their socioeconomic standing.

The barometer type seems to listen with solicitous appraisal and maybe even a little bit of pity as I answer. Then she shares how her tween will be conducting astronomical observation at Mauna Kea before the family heads to Bora Bora. 


With a disingenuous nod to humility, she inevitably uses the word “just” early on in her sentences. “Sally is ‘just’ studying opera at The Met and doing a summer ballet intensive in Moscow,” for example. 

I have, on occasion, walked away from this type of exchange feeling as if I’ve “just” been used as a human air pump to inflate another’s ego, whether I was impressed or not.

The truly interested mom asks, then listens intently, making awkwardly robust eye contact and nodding even if what I have to say is pretty boring. I dig human connection, so I appreciate the enthusiasm. I just hope I don’t sound like a tiresome windbag.

Beloved by me for their lack of scrutiny are the conversational moms, who are throwing out their thoughts, casually hearing mine and going about their business. 

All I have to say about summer is pretty simple. I like hanging out with my kids, and while I like a nice vacation as much as the next guy, I’m not all that concerned where I do it.

Especially this year. We’ve been hoping to do some home repairs and maintenance, then we had some unexpected vehicle expenses dig into our budget. If we do decide to get away, thankfully my sensibilities are more Deep Creek Lake then Disney World.

We are fortunate to have family members living near Lake Erie and the Great Smoky Mountains who have extended invitations for visits. Both are beautiful places.

Besides that, my older two children will be away quite a bit. I’m looking forward to low-key day trips and inexpensive activities with my younger two. With minimal effort, it’s easy to pull off. 

They are signed up for some art classes. We’ve scoped out dates for storytelling in the park, which is always fun. And they are kicking around the idea of some foreign language classes. All of these things are free.

In between, we’ll be heading to see sights they want to see that are challenging to swing during the school year. Among them are the National Zoo, and some Smithsonian museums and historical sites. We like to swim and kayak, so we’ll be hitting nearby parks.

Our destinations don’t need to be lavish or far-flung. They just need to offer a little reprieve from the day-to-day, appeal to our interests and bring us together.

So that’s the plan. 

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

The Herald-Mail Articles