Beating summertime sadness with a badminton racquet
We got this
God damn, is it possible to be a parent and experience a single transitory period without having all kinds of deep feelings about it? First, you’re sad about a thing starting, and the next thing you know, you’re sad about it ending.
This is the last week of school for us, and it’s a little extra poignant because, as they are wont, some teachers etc are leaving for new schools, new jobs, new destinations, so that’s quite a bit sniff sniff boo hoo. And, as kids get older, everyone splits off in farther directions. It felt like when the kids were little, there was the one day camp nearby that everyone went to so there was a feeling of reassuring continuity. Now everyone’s on a travel team or a sleepaway camp all summer or going abroad, so it does feel like a lonelier than usual end to the school year.
But I won’t get caught up in navel-gazing melancholia.
Because I bought us a badminton set.
I’ve been watching the latest season of the show “The Great,” which has a lot of badminton scenes, and it made me think we needed our own set. The kids are both pretty proficient at baseball, so I figured they might be big enough to handle a racquet and shuttlecock. Plus, the dog isn’t allowed to run around in the backyard anymore due to his incessant barking, so there are no poops to slip on.
The set arrived on Thursday. A big theme of parenting is buying a thing and hoping that it is going to do a lot of work for you—this educational toy will occupy your toddler for hours, this game will teach your kid to code, this outdoor toy will wear them out — only to find out the activity in question is complicated or needs a lot of supervision or cleanup or breaks immediately or your kid just plain doesn’t vibe with it.
But the badminton set? For once, my hopes lined up with my kids’ abilities and interests. We’ve talked before about underrated milestones. Add “Everyone is big enough to play the same game” to the list. Badminton looks like an easy mess-around-with-a-beer-in-your-hand game, but serving can be a hand-eye coordination nightmare. Racquets can be weapons. You need to be able to run around and cover space if you want to enjoy a volley. It’s not quite as simple as it looks.
But the boys are now big and adept enough to play and to want to get better (also to waste everyone’s time by trying to do trick shots like serving over their shoulders or under their legs.) Nobody so far has cried and gotten mad and wanted to quit. Nobody has thrown a racquet on the ground or at another person. And I am having fun because I played on the badminton team in high school for a few years, so for now, I’m the best player in the family, and I get to enjoy a rare flex.
So this is the plan. We are just going to play badminton all summer when the kids are not at camp.
There is no way this plan will fail. We will never get sick of it. We will always put the set away before it rains. The dog will not chew up any part of the set. It will only rain at convenient times so that the grass will never be too wet. There won’t be any bugs. It won’t be too hot. We will never get mad at each other or bored. The kids will forget about screens. They will be so tired they’ll go to bed happily ever night and sleep for 12 hours and wake up and want to do summertime reading before we return to the backyard. We will somehow get a healthy glow but also avoid sunburn. Neighbors will come play, and everyone will take turns and be nice. We won’t lose a single shuttlecock.
We will be too busy playing badminton to fight or be bored or overwhelmed or depressed or to worry about what comes next in the fall.
All thanks to me.
What are you counting on to make your summer perfect? Of course, I’m being ironic and hyperbolic, but also, what’s the thing or activity that you are really putting a lot of hope into making this time awesome and distracting you from—nay, eliminating—all your worries? I didn’t even mention the floral jumpsuit I ordered off Instagram that is going to fill in the gaps when the badminton set is not in use.
It’s going to be a great summer, and we can’t lose.
Other witchy things
Just some things to check out that I don’t have a narrative for:
Witchon how writers find time to do their thing despite kids, featuring a tip from me.
My friendis going to be co-running a midwest writers’ retreat this fall that might be relevant to some of your interests. The Driftless area is a wonderful spot for a retreat and Amy is both awesome as a person and knows what she’s talking about professionally:
“I wanted to let you know about a writing retreat that my friend, the brilliant memoirist Sarah McColl, and I are launching this fall in the beautiful Driftless region of Wisconsin. It’ll be the weekend of October 6-9, at the lovely new Red Clover Ranch in Soldier’s Grove, WI, and it’ll have all the nice retreat things: generative writing classes, opportunities to share your work, cozy lodging, farm-to-table meals, a sauna (!), firepit, cocktail hour... everything you need to connect or re-connect with your creativity. All the details here!”
If you are curious about how I strategize around growth when it comes to Evil Witches, I sort of don’t, basically. I wrote about newsletter editors who are fine with slow/organic growth for Inbox Collective (where I am currently managing editor) feat..
If you want a quick, effective way to do what you can to save democracy, you can become a member of the Evil Witches Giving Circle at literally any amount. We are working to flip the Virginia House and keep the Senate blue and let Glenn Youngkin and the NRA dangle out there. We are really close to meeting our $5K goal. Your dollars at the state level have an incredible impact, and state policies affect the whole country.
Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers. New here? Here’s what the newsletter is all about.
If you are not already a paid subscriber, I hope you think about it. You get access to intimate, funny and helpful chats and extra context, plus you sponsor the ad-free content you see today.
The Evil Witches archives live here. If you’re feeling summery, here is a very realistic example of kids’ summer camp options, bad habits and words kids learn over the summer, and that time my kid threw a handful of sand in my face when all I was doing was trying to protect him from COVID.
If you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions for the newsletter, you can reply directly to this email or leave them in the comments. If you like this newsletter or found this issue helpful, please feel free to share it with people you think might like it.