When my children were little, we used to rent a house in Long Beach Island. This barrier island, in New Jersey, was ideal for families with small children. One side of the slender island had a bay beach, where they could swim, and the other side, just a couple of blocks over, had exciting waves.
There was miniature golf, a small, family-owned amusement park, flat bike paths and family friendly restaurants.
One thing that always stuck in my craw was that it was in New Jersey. New Yorkers have a thing about New Jersey. We hate it. We hate the Turnpike, we hate the Garden State Parkway, we hate hate hate the traffic. The Garden State was the worst. Before the EZ Pass, you had to stop at multiple toll booths, and woe be to the driver who forgot to stock up on tokens. The back-ups were legendary, and our car rides were horrific.
But once we crossed the causeway, all stress melted away. We lived in bathing suits and flip flops and no one cared if sand was tracked into the living room. The house was a group share, and you got a certain number of weekends, with another family, plus a week by yourself. We always had another family share our ‘private’ week since the kids could amuse each other and the adults could take turns making cocktails.
One highlight of the summer, a couple of weeks before the season started, was the brunch where all the families involved brought Daily Planners and Filofaxes (in those crazy days before Backberries and iPhones) and scheduled the summer. Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day were preferred dates, so you had to try to negotiate a couple of good weekends and a couple of not so desirable ones.
But back to the saying of parents biting them in the butt. My husband and I always bitterly complained about the traffic (there is no public transportation option) and I used to say, “I hate that the kids will grow up saying they spent their summers in New Jersey.” I don’t remember ever actually saying that to the kids.
So now my 17 year old looked at Princeton University, loved it, and said, “but I just can’t go to school in New Jersey.”