Suburban Summer

By Mir
July 13, 2005

I have spoken here, more than once, about how important I believe it is for kids to have structure and stability and routine. Particularly for my, uh, “challenging” child, who oftentimes acts out when her expectations are disrupted.

So it made perfect sense to schedule a different activity every single freaking week for the entire Summer.

(I don’t do crack, I just play a crackhead on TV!)

Yeah, it wouldn’t have been my first choice in a perfect world. But between trips out of town and visits from grandparents and the various costs and restrictions of our care options, this is how it worked out. Much to my amazement–so far, so good. Generally.

This week the kids are attending Cool Camp on the Lake.

Cool Camp on the Lake (not its real name) is run by… ummm… the Village People. In this particular instance, their representatives tend to eschew the festive headgear in favor of Abercrombie t-shirts and walkie-talkies, but still, trust me, they’re Village People on the inside.

This week is proving to be a lot more involved than I’d anticipated.

Every morning, I load up backpacks. I pack two lunches, four snacks, spare clothes, ice-laden water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, towels, flip-flops, goggles, plastic bags for wet items, and five or six bricks for good measure. After I set out breakfast for the kids and holler at them seventy times to get their butts downstairs, I get out the gallon jug of SPF95 sunscreen. The kids eat breakfast in their bathing suits; I grease them up when they’re done, and slip their shirts and shorts over their suits. One little push and they can slide right out to the car on their greasy little knees!

Every evening, I clean out the backpacks. I hang up wet suits and towels, ooh and aah over craft projects, throw away wet bags, rinse out lunchbags and water bottles, empty an entire spray bottle of laundry pre-treater into two sets of clothing, and herd the kids into the shower and then pajamas. Once they’re in bed, I return downstairs and vacuum up the twenty pounds of sand and dirt I’ve shaken out of their stuff. Then I eat some ice cream, because I earned it.

You may ask: In return for all of this (and a wad of money), what are we receiving? (Okay, maybe you don’t ask. Just feign interest and play along.) Well, the results are varied.

Thumbs up for…
… easy bedtime with exhausted children!
… golden-brown and delicious-looking tanned Chickadee!
… camp staff trained in food allergy safety!
… Monkey finally learning how to pee (and aim) standing up!
… popsicles! freeze tag! nature walks!
… fresh air, new experiences, etc.!

Thumbs down for…
… older kids who knock down my little kids. (Grrrr.)
… catty girls who insist on “taking sides.” (Did Chickadee start middle school and I missed it?)
… bratty ignorant children who tell my kids they’re going to sit at the peanut-free table with their peanut butter sandwiches. (They didn’t, of course, but I still may have to kill them.)
… bathrooms of dubious cleanliness (hence the reluctance of my son to sit his lily-white heinie down).
… Monkey refusing to swim, because “that squishy stuff under the water scares me.” (Yes, my son is afraid of… mud.)
… Chickadee announcing that a counselor told her that the tooth fairy turned out to be her dad, so now she’s afraid that I am really just pretending to be the tooth fairy. (First off: Counselor? Bite me. Second: My astute spontaneous response was “Geez, Chickie, I have better things to do with my time than collect your yucky old teeth!” Gosh, I bet that was really reassuring.)
… archery? Seriously, dude, my children were given SHARP PROJECTILES. Dangerous move, Village People.

All in all, I’m glad we’re doing it. The kids are having a blast. I’m learning a lot about trade-offs. I’m remembering my own childhood days at camp. It’s not perfect, but it’s a little slice of Summer I’m glad they get to have. I’m also glad they’ll be on to the next thing, next week.

And I’m hoping that counselor won’t be discussing Santa until after Friday….


  1. kanensara

    Camp! I remember that!! I had my first “real” kiss at camp! But you’ve got a few years to worry about that…

  2. Hula Doula

    First off…the peanut free zone is a cool place to be. Rude kids. Especially the one that started the middle school garbage…BAHH
    Secondly, the bite me counselor will have his stocking filled with coal this year. That will make it right!
    Sounds like a good time though! AH camp. My second kiss was at camp. *sigh I guess the rule of thumb is never send your daughter to a co ed camp!! Lots of kissing!! LOL

  3. Crystal

    Damn, it’s only a little horrible to ruin a kid’s idea of the tooth fairy! What kind of heartless brat does that? Either way, it sounds like everyone is having fun, can I send my kids? ;)

  4. Jenn

    What a good mom you are having EVERY week scheduled. From a slacker-mom (who rolls her eyes if I have to take my kids to the pool) I am greatly impressed and in a bit of awe!

    No camp kisses here, though. Of course, I went to girlscout camp at that age, so that probably had something to do with it.

  5. ben

    I never got kissed at camp.


  6. Sara

    Good story, good story…

  7. Fraulein N

    Can’t say I blame Monkey for not wanting to swim with “that squishy stuff.” But, archery? Really??

  8. Melanie Lynne Hauser

    I only went to Girl Scout camp until I got to high school, then I went off to many music/drama camps. And yeah…camp kisses…sigh.

    I’m a slacker mom, too, though. The school year is over-scheduled; I give my guys time off for just lazing around in the summer. But we also live in a neighborhood where there are a ton of kids around all day; that would make a difference, I think, if we didn’t.

  9. Genuine

    How do you not mix up the sunscreen with the milk in the morning? We constantly hve that happen.

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