I swear I know that Halloween comes every October 31st, but this year it really crept up on me.
Maybe it was the fact that Bauercrest at the Bruins happened on the 28th, so I was swept up in a whirlwind of missing tickets, changing jersey sizes, and showing a Garden full of fans that Camp Bauercrest Youth Hockey is a thing (you just have to believe), ultimately proving to loving mothers everywhere that yes, Jewish boys do play hockey.
When our boys were little, choosing Halloween costumes was almost as exciting as the night itself. Not anymore. For a straight week, we talked (fought) about it every night at dinner. Until suddenly I realized with horror… they just didn’t care. They cared about being with their friends and walking around without us after dark and getting as much candy as they could carry, but they didn’t care a lick about dressing up.
I was not ready for this. “What are you gonna be for Halloween?” is one of the most exciting questions of all time. I didn’t know “I don’t know” was one of the options… certainly not four days before the big night.
So yes, I took matters into my own hands. I borrowed a costume from a friend for the child who doesn’t do masks, wigs, or makeup. And I made one for the child who begrudgingly agreed he should probably be “something.” In the end, it was pretty awesome. But I’d be lying if I said it was pretty getting there. If they’d had their way, one would have gone as a moody pre-teen and the other would have gone as Tom Brady in track pants and the #12 jersey he wears to school twice (four times) a week.
Eventually I know I’ll have to just let it happen…. maybe as soon as next year. After all, you don’t know it’s the last time you’re going to lift up and carry your child until the next time you try and there’s just no way. So maybe this really is the end of an era. Or maybe next year they’ll be inspired on their own and I’ll just sit back and watch.
No, really. I can sit back and watch. I’ve done it. But I don’t always (usually). Sometimes (most of the time) I nudge.
I talk to a lot of parents who aren’t totally sure their sons are ready for camp. Others know their sons are ready, but they’re not sure they are. I’ve been a mom of campers for four summers, and I’ve been Camp Mom for two, and this is what I’ve learned: If a child mentions even once that he thinks he’s ready for camp, he’s ready for camp. He might spend every day until camp starts second-guessing his decision; this, in turn, will give you second thoughts, assuming you didn’t already have them. He’s looking to you to be sure enough for both of you. This is a lot to ask of you, because you might not be sure at all.
For those of you who didn’t already have a working list of things you’re not sure about when it comes to camp, please feel free to use this one:
How can you be sure he won’t miss you? How can you be sure he will eat and drink and wear sunscreen? How can you be sure everyone will be nice? How can you be sure that this is the right thing right now?
Well, I’m here to kill the mystery, much like my kids thought I was killing Halloween:
1. Your son will miss you. We hope he misses you. If he doesn’t miss you, something’s not right. And here’s a twist: If you have a dog, he will miss the dog more than he misses you, because the dog can’t write letters. Who knew? But here’s the thing: Missing home and loving camp are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s what we call a perfect scenario. It leads to a sense of deep appreciation that most kids don’t experience until much later in life… if ever.
2. Your son will eat and drink because he will be hungry and thirsty, and because he will be sitting with other campers and counselors at a table with pitchers of drinks and family-style platters of food three times a day. Even the pickiest eater will eat something at every meal, and then some. According to our surveys, the food is one of the things our kids love most about camp. (I know, right?!? I guess that’s what makes them kids!) As for sunscreen, they will wear it because I am there, and I am relentless. Whether you’re eight or eighteen, I don’t discriminate. Ask anyone.
3. Camp Bauercrest is filled with some of the nicest boys (and men) I have ever met. Truly. That said, no, not everyone will be nice all the time. Living in a bunk with 10 boys can be messy… literally and figuratively. That’s why there’s no better, safer place to learn to compromise, negotiate, and figure out what matters and what doesn’t. It’s why there are no friends like camp friends… and the brotherhood at Bauercrest takes that to a whole new level. Research shows that kids who go to overnight camp have a much easier time adjusting to their freshman year at college than kids who never spent any real time away from home. You might think this is a lifetime away… until you talk to the parents of any of our counselors. They felt the exact same way when they were you, leaving their little boys on the Hillside for the very first time… when the dorm room they just finished setting up was also a lifetime away.
4. You won’t be sure this is the right thing right now. Until you are. And that’s when the magic happens.
I think what I’m trying to say is, some kids already know what they’re going to be next Halloween. Most will figure it out in the months and weeks before. And others will not be able to make a decision at all… perhaps resulting in the need to be Miyagied.
It’s the same with camp.
Our youngest couldn’t wait to go; but for our oldest, it wasn’t that simple. The decision weighed on him, and he spent a lot of time on the fence. So we nudged him off. And every time he climbed back on, we nudged him again. I think about this every time I meet a prospective family. What if we had let him wait until he was 100% sure… or until I was 100% sure? When I think of everything he could have missed, I’m 100% sure that being 100% sure is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Have a wonderful weekend. Shabbat Shalom. Wax on, wax off.