When I think back on this past year and all the times I abruptly ended a conversation with my kids with a “Fine. Whatever,” I am reminded once again that I will not be up for any Mother of the Year awards. It’s probably just as well; I have nothing to wear anyway.
The pandemic seems to have erased what was left of my youthful exuberance, my iron will, and let’s face it…my sanity. In the meantime, I’ve taken up a new hobby. You may have dabbled in it, too; it’s all the rage these days. It’s called Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop. It’s neither fun nor fulfilling, yet when I go there, I always find myself in excellent company.
Speaking of excellent company, when I’ve spoken to our current and prospective families recently, I’ve heard many of the same hesitations and concerns. Kids are acting out. Parents are giving in. This is in no way a reflection of how much we love our children, or how desperately we want to do what’s best for them. But when did we start letting them determine what that actually means? When did we decide that the pandemic, which has already taken so much from these kids, could dictate when their childhoods end? In many ways, allowing them to make adult decisions does just that.
Kids absolutely need a break from all the pressures of the outside world, but that’s not the same as giving them a clean break from any semblance of structure in their lives. Camp gets them up and out of bed at the same time each morning. It gets them outside, running around, growing faster and stronger with each passing day. It gives them a place to be, something to do, and someone to do it with during every waking moment. And just as they’re about to run out of batteries, camp gives them mandatory rest periods and free time so they can recharge.
You know what doesn’t need to recharge? Their phones. Because they don’t have them. You know what happens when kids don’t have their phones? You don’t have to fight with them about how they’re always on their phones. In fact, when your kids are at camp, you don’t have to fight with them about ANYTHING!!! Their laundry isn’t all over the floor. Their dishes aren’t wherever they left them (night table drawers are a fan favorite in my house). You don’t have to listen to them try for hours to make plans that in the end amount to nothing because when they’re at camp, they have plans EVERY SINGLE DAY! And you don’t have to drive them because they’re ALREADY THERE!
Kids aren’t the only ones who need a break. Over the last two years, you’ve had to do all that pivoting and reimagining right alongside them… but as parents, you were likely already at an energy deficit when this whole thing started. If we’re being honest, haven’t we all been varying degrees of tired (i.e. exhausted) since the day these little angels were born?
So why make more work for yourselves? I know, I know… because that’s what we do. But what if we stopped doing it? What if you went to the beach and let us worry about getting them to Water Country and Canobie Lake Park? What if you finally took that vacation while they had Casino Night and Army/Navy Day and played every sport imaginable? What if you had happy hour every night by your fire pit, where you actually got to play your own music without being told how horrible it is and how old you are? I’m here to tell you: YOUR MUSIC IS AWESOME!!! And don’t waste one second feeling guilty about any of it, because our campfires are epic and our s’mores are gooey and delicious.
If your son loved camp last summer but is hesitant about coming back, please let us come and speak to him. We’ll tell him about all the amazing things we have planned that we couldn’t do last year in our little Covid bubble. Field trips. Socials. Inter-camp tournaments and jamborees. Special guests. Movies IN AN ACTUAL THEATER!!! The list goes on and on. Whatever he’s leaving at home will be there when he gets back, but that’s not how it works with camp. When you leave home, you’re talking a matter of weeks. When you miss just one summer at camp, that’s two years. This math may sound confusing, but I’m sure any of our current campers or alums who skipped a year, then spent the next however many years wishing they hadn’t, can explain it to you.
We know how tough these decisions are. We know sometimes it’s easier to just let them do what they want. But as Ken likes to say (at least once a week) what’s right isn’t always easy, and what’s easy isn’t always right. I’d love to say it’s time to start taking our lives back, but we’re parents; that’s just not in the cards for us right now. So how about starting small and taking just a few weeks of summer back? Also, let’s stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’ve got better things to do. Besides, when we really think about it… how many other shoes can actually still be up there???