Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don't Talk to Me About Camp.

You may be asking yourself: "Why did this idiot write a blog post about summer camp right now? It's February. I'm still secretly pilfering leftover Valentine's Day candy after my kids go to sleep and wondering if the Polar Vortex is actually going to plunge us into a Narnia-like eternal winter."

I TOTALLY AGREE. It seems insane.

The other day my old pal Kate casually mentioned that she was already done signing up her kids for all their summer camps. Another mom we were chatting with nodded and said a few of her friends were done, too. It didn't really register with me and I was all: "Oh that's great! Congrats! Hey - what about that Downton Abbey finale?! Do you want an Altoid?" Then about three hours later I got an email from the Cub Scouts about the dates for their summer camps. Then a flier from the school about science camp. Then an email from the dance teacher about dance camps.

It was at that point that I developed a small urge to whimper rant. Because this is all wrong. For those of you who are awesome and have already gotten all this done, I sincerely say good for you. Also, I'm super impressed because how did you even do that?

I have zero ability to plan for this nonsense right now. Are you kidding me? It's supposed to snow another 1-3 inches tomorrow which means that school will probably be cancelled for the rest of the month. That means I have to plan emergency food, water, activities, home work, and child care for the rest of the week. And do our taxes. And it's not even Spring Break yet. It's not even March yet.

First of all, my kids will not go to any camps before the 4th of July this year. Why is that? Because we've had 10 snow days. So they will still be in school on July 4th.

Second of all, do you know how much camps cost? Camp is like daycare on steroids. Take what you spend on your average trip to Target and then triple it. That's what a week at camp costs where I live. And for what? I'm not exactly sure. All I know is - I still have to pack a damn lunch. Lego engineering camp to stir up all the STEM-y goodness in their little brains? Are you sure? What exactly are they doing in that room? I'm fairly certain they're just building stuff out of little bricks which is exactly what my son does in his room listening to Heroes of Olympus books on tape from the library for free.

Thirdly, camps all start and end at bizarro times. Because 10am-2pm? That makes total sense. That's awesome. Thanks, guys. This leads to a fun, relaxing summer activity I like to call "Logistics and Strategic Transportation Exercises for Multi-Child or Working Families" wherein you and your spouse negotiate the shit show of having to be in 4 places at one time, while negotiating who will be late to what in the most equitable manner possible. Because for my three kids of various ages, genders and interests - they are never, ever supposed to be in the same place at the same time.

If you work, camps either have to provide before and after care (for even more money!), transportation to and from (also for more money!), or you have to sign up with a friend so you can carpool.  But signing up for camp with a friend means that you both have to (a) have your act together at the same time and (b) have enough cash to sign up your kids at the same time or (3) mutually give up in despair and concede that your collective brood will just play Xbox for the month of July (as the ambitious summer homeschooling/enrichment plans generally fizzle out for me by week 2 of vacation).

And since we're unreasonably expected to have our act together in the middle of cold and flu season (no one has been fully healthy in my house in months) during the Winter of Unlimited Snow Days, they could at least wait until we all had our tax returns back before asking us for money. Either you're lucky and have the cash on hand for the camps you want or you register later than everyone else and risk…

Dun dun DUUUHHHNNN! Not getting in. Because the good parents everybody else hopped right on those deadlines in February and registered their kids. So in late April, when it's starting to get hot outside, and your kids are taking crappy standardized tests in school all day, and you realize that suddenly none of their clothes fit them anymore, you will overhear other parents discussing how all their friends are going to the same camps or to some awesome beach house and you will freak out. Did I say you? Sorry I meant me. Every year. Guys, I'm just trying to make sure everyone has food and clean underpants and clothes that are not going to make our neighbors think my kids are feral, OK? That's what I'm doing right now. 

The truth is, I don't even really like camp. I like to have summers where we just slow the hell down and hang out together and do nothing. I want to spend time with them and go to the pool and have little adventures and get ice cream from the ice cream truck… Wait. I'm insane. Because that's always how I think it's going to work but it never does. The reality is that after a couple of weeks with no schedule my house turns into Thunderdome. No one gets along and we slowly degenerate from fairly functioning people (who love each other) into sloth-like Jabbas in stretchy pants who watch far too much Animal Planet (while constantly fighting).

So camp it is. It breaks up the summer and gives us a schedule. So… Fine. I give up. I guess I better go sell my kidney to that nice Russian doctor behind the VFW so I can register my kids before it's too late.

xo, Lydia

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