How do I explain what summer is to my daughter?
It recently occurred to me that I’m going to have to explain what summer is to the Popple someday.
If you’re thinking, “But don’t you have summer in Scotland?”, you have clearly never been to Glasgow in July. My heat has been on for most of the month. I wear woolly socks every evening. The sun disappeared for two weeks, and when it returned it was blowy as hell so it still felt kind of cold.
This is what the Popple is going to think summer is like.
And, to be fair, Scottish summer IS a version of summer. It’s just not my version of summer. My summer is a Long Island summer circa 1982-2000. These summers lasted from the end of May until mid-September. They were consistently warm and sunny. They smelled like sunblock and freshly cut grass and never required the use of a waterproof jacket.
The Popple isn’t going to know what it’s like to be hot, sometimes stupidly so, for months on end. She will never have to lay all of her shorts next to each other to see which pair is the shortest, because it’s too hot to have even an extra half inch of fabric touching your body. She will never sweat under a ceiling fan at night or know the joy of sticking your head in the freezer, especially if it’s to look for a Fla-Vor-Ice.
(Fla-Vor-Ices are popsicles that you eat out of a plastic tube. They come in neon colours and the best flavour is blue, if you’re a child. If you’re an adult, you recognise that all Fla-Vor-Ices are equally disgusting.)
She’ll never have to spend the last month of school making sure that she’s secured a friend with a pool, preferably an underground one. She won’t spend entire days in the pool because it’s too hot to get out, so her fingers get all pruny and her eyes sting from the chlorine. She won’t have underwater tea parties or do cannonballs off the diving board. She won’t know the joy of a nighttime swim on a hot evening, or the horror of stepping on a slug with your bare foot after said swim.
She won’t know how much fun it can be to go to a water park, where you can be in your wet bathing suit all day yet somehow never feel cold. She won’t race her friends down the slides or pee in the wave pool (because, let’s face it – everyone pees in the wave pool). She won’t end the day with Dippin’ Dots, that weird snack made from flash freezing ice cream in liquid nitrogen.
She won’t know what it’s like to live within a few miles of the beach. She won’t eat sandwiches that are crunchy with sand and drink Capri Sun while staring at Connecticut in the distance. She won’t watch her toes disappear beneath murky water, or throw seaweed at her friends because it makes a good noise when it sticks. She won’t draw on her friends’ backs in sunscreen while they sunbathe so they wake up with rude-looking sunburns on their skin. She definitely won’t do that.
Her summers will be filled with other things. Humid, wet air. Grey skies. Midges. 99 Flakes. Barbecues under brollies. Days when the sun doesn’t set until 10pm. An overwhelming appreciation for those rare sunny days, because you don’t know when the next one is coming.
(But she’ll moan about the heat. We complain that there’s no sun in Scotland, and then when it does come out we’re like, “Ugh, stop shining so hard.” It’s kind of our thing.)