When my youngest daughter was two years old, my in-laws offered to take all three kids for an extended visit at their house in Texas during the summer. They were willing to have the kids stay with them for over a month! Never having left the kids with anyone else for more than a week (another set of grandparents), this was both exciting and terrifying for my husband and me (though I think he was more excited, and I was more a mix of both).
My youngest is now ten years old, and before COVID, they had only missed one year of this tradition, which we all looked forward to every year. Did we miss them? Yes! Was it good to have a break? Also yes. And all that time with their grandparents who they never see otherwise was a great thing. A win-win-win.
And then COVID happened, and the kids spent the summers of 2020 and 2021 at home, doing a lot of nothing. This year, the planning started with everything as "maybe it will happen." I wasn't okay with flat out agreeing to let them to go to Texas (a place not exactly known for COVID safety protocols) back in early spring, when infection rates were still high... but I was starting to consider it.
When four out of five of us caught COVID in late May, and the one who didn't finally got her booster shortly thereafter, I felt a little less stressed about it - at least everyone should have enough antibodies to get through the summer.
However, last winter my son had thrown a plot twist into our plans. He wanted to take a five-week summer class - Honors Geometry - in order to get farther ahead. It wasn't just something he wanted a little bit. He really wanted to do it. (A kid begging for more school in the summer is serious business!) The class was virtual, but he had to take the mid-term, final, and standardized state test in person, so there was no way he could go to Texas until the class was over.
So his sisters left for Texas without him, and we had a strange, sort of hybrid version of our past nine summers. The kids had left... but they hadn't. My husband and I weren't quite alone, but the house was much less full. Until yesterday, when my son became the first of our kids to fly alone as he flew to Texas to join his sisters. (Oh, and he got a B in his class - not bad for an honors class two levels above his grade level)
We won't have a quiet house for four or five weeks this year, like we usually do. School starts three weeks from tomorrow. But my husband and I have almost two weeks without having to tell anyone to do chores, or to turn off the lights or clean their room, and my son has almost two weeks with his grandparents, which is better than none.
We'll all take what we can get - I guess we've gotten better at that the past couple years.