|This is what happens when you don't make a lot of plans.|
The Space for a little Summer Boredom
So I didn't sign my kids up for a single day of camp this summer. Not one. I may still but I haven't yet. I figure I have saved gas, obviously camp fees, worry, travel time, having to pack lunches, gym bags, wet bathing suits, lost flip flops and my voice. Last summer, camp got to feeling a lot like, well, school. Every day I'd drag them out of bed and haul them to soccer or swimming. I'd be yelling, "get in the car!!" with exactly the same degree of irritated meanness that I do during the regular school months. This makes me hate myself deeply beginning right when I walk back to the truck after dropping them off. This self-loathing used to fuel my desire to have a glass of wine in the evening to numb my feelings of parental inadequacy. Then I would fall asleep early and miss reading time (more parental inadequacy) and then I'd wake up early (like the middle of the night). Then I would finally actually fall asleep (like real sleep) again around 3:45 and wake up at 7:45 groggy, angry and ready for my Sisyphus boulder push all over again. Yeah, so I stopped the wining/whining.
This year I thought who the hell is enriched by this routine? You see, midway through last summer (after signing everybody up for camp and actually pre-paying for the discount), I realized that I would rush them off to camp so that I could come home and vacuum. Whaaat!!!????!! Yeah, nuts. I realized I could get their little tushes behind some hardware and get them making the neat and tidy little lines in the carpet. Hell, if they were Johnny Cash's kid brothers, they'd have been working in a mill for 3 years by now (we skip over the ending of that story, btw).
No need for guilt.
In all seriousness, the kids have so many wonderful toys from their birthdays and Christmases. The problem is that they never would get to play with them. During the school year, they're never home in the evening. We had soccer on Saturday, mass on Sundays, Kumon on Monday/Thursday and martial arts (until that debacle ended in March) on Tuesday and Wednesday. And this is Kindergarten! What insanity. Thank goodness we freed up some time when we let go of Tae Kwon Do, or as my brother Marc used to refer to it "Take My Dough."
Anyway, camp. I know, I know. When the kids are home they're underfoot and messing things up--hell who am I kidding? They're breaking things, important things sometimes, let's be clear about that. The only thing is, when they go back to school in the fall, it will feel different for both of us (and I'll have several repair crews in at once to minimize disruption in our newly minted routine). It will be alien to have such stringent schedule after such a lax summer. But for goodness sake! It's the summer between Kindergarten and First Grade! We often only understand the meaning of experiences by contrasting them with other opposite experiences. It seemed like they were running an ultra marathon with no rest stops. They had no time to synthesize or metabolize what they were learning anywhere. Not at school or any of their "enriching" after school activities. They, hey who am I kidding? IIIIIII needed the break. I need to get to know them. The way they move through a day, an evening, a conflict, a boo boo. I'm burning daylight here! Elliot is going to be 7 in August. They ain't going to be hanging around Mom (by choice anyway) in a couple of very short years. Perish the thought.
That space of boredom (right after they get too bored to wreck the drywall anymore) is the crucible of creativity. I built entire cities including multistory apartments for Barbie and Ken. They had a hand dug, trash-bag-lined, in-ground swimming pool with a diving board made from a sponge and a balsa wood ladder. Barbie had the latest fashions thanks to my old single socks and some Christmas ribbon. These times of singularly building this stuff are some of my most vivid and happy childhood memories. I was allowed to be bored and then allowed the space to figure out how to solve that-- without setting something aflame, of course. Sometimes my neighbor Lisa would even help. (That is, before we started stealing cigarettes and setting them aflame. Shhh don't tell my parents).
So it's Camp Screaming-Mamasan on the shores of Lake I-don't-Care-Who-Started-It for the Summer of 2013. We're going on week number 4 and everybody seems pretty stinking bored yet really, really happy. They're still wild and mostly horribly ill-behaved. I'm often terribly embarrassed by my "parental inadequacy" (never by their cuteness, though). But, as I have said before, good mothers are really hard to come by these days. I'm still looking for one to parent my kids (and, of course, provide them with an enriching summer---or not).
I'll be taking applications through the end of this month.
Happy 4th of July everybody.