Yes, camp is over way too soon. Yes, it was a wonderful five weeks. What I did not realize until today, Festival Day, was how truly magical it was. Allow me to share a few pictures:
- With the exception of one (really, I swear, there was only one) call from the director…all’s great.
- With the exception of two lost lunch bags….all’s great.
- With the exception of the fact that camp is done for the season…all’s great.
Yep, you read that right: Camp.Is.Done.For.The.Season. (As in: they close their doors til next year, no option to add another week or five, done, over, finished.)
She had a great time. She made friends. She wants to go back next summer. But now I have until September 9th (yes, September 9th) when she goes back to school to try to keep her at least equally happy.
No, I did not sign her up for any other camps. No, I do not have any real plans in place. No, I do not know what I was thinking. Oh, wait…all one needs to do it review the epic fail of last summer and it will all make sense.
Yes, I have poked around for programs here and there, but have come up with nothin’. Yes, I am in denial that things could turn torturous over these next several hours, I mean days, er, weeks. Yes, I am more than a little concerned.
She did have five great weeks with only one minor transgression which I have chosen to forget about. I am going to quit while I’m ahead.
That said: if at any time over the next several weeks you have the urge to spend some quality time with an artistic, funny, quirky, energetic and extraordinarily complicated child (particularly during the hours that I have to, um, go to work) just let me know…I am sure we can work something out.
p.s. You stand forewarned: any and all joyous postings regarding children at camp, trips abroad or the like will not be welcome around these parts. What? I am nothing if not honest.
One of my favorite (and by favorite I mean “best alternative when I am feeling homicidal”) things to do at night is to drive up, down and around the streets of my neighborhood. It gives me a feel for what is going on if even just for that fleeting moment when I take my eyes off the road and assess what is happening around me. On these less-frequent-than-over-the-past-few-years-but-not-all-together-absent excursions I, with a nearly 100% success rate, feel better by the time I pull back into my own driveway.
As I weave through the streets, I take a mental inventory (that sounds creepier than it is) of who (based solely upon the cars in the driveway) is home, who is having work done to the house and who should be having work done to the house I find myself thinking less about whatever event drove me to seek refuge in my car and more about what is happening for other folks. We all get so wrapped up in whatever mishegas* we are dealing with that we teeter dangerously close to being totally self-absorbed and, as a result, forgetting about the people we surround ourselves with – even if just by proximity.
Driving along one street, I think of my friend who, during the school year, I see most mornings at the gym but, given both of our altered summer schedules with the kids, haven’t seen since school got out. I wonder how things are going with his three kids, his wife and where they might be this summer. Aside from sporadic Facebook updates by his wife and seeing that his car in the driveway, I only know they are in town…but that is all I know. I remind myself to shoot him a text to check in.
I pass by another house, the lights in the master bedroom still burning, and think of how they are coping and planning for their daughter’s upcoming surgery. While I talk to the house’s owner nearly every day and have a fairly good grasp on where her head is, I do wonder if she and her husband are discussing it as I drive by, her none the wiser to my roaming the streets. (Until now, that is.)
How are things going with the lesbian neighbor whose wife recently left her for a man? And that damn dog that barks incessantly all night – did I just discover where it lives? Wow, that is a hell of an addition going on that house – are they adding a family room or a new kitchen or an in-law suite for their ailing parents? Do they even have ailing parents? I notice that ours is not the only overgrown lawn and ponder whether it is a sign of laziness or of being too overwhelmed to be bothered by something as benign as grass. That looks like a new car in the driveway – must have been a good year judging by the make and model. I think about how the kid in another house is doing since being busted having a huge house party when his folks were out-of-town. (I had forgotten all about that…I suspect his parents have not.)
But the real thrill happens when I drive by (again, as uncreepily as possible) and can actually see into the house and catch a snippet of what goes on behind closed doors. I’ve seen dinner parties in progress. I’ve noticed folks with their feet up watching television. There have been sightings of people getting up and taking themselves to another room in the house. Where are they headed? What are they doing? Where is their head?
I catch a glimpse into windows of homes I know as well as my own and others I have never been in.** I comment to myself (‘cause it would be weird to say it aloud, all alone in my car) about the décor, or the color of the walls or the cool chandelier. And, in the process, I notice that my anxiety has dissipated. My homicidal urges are quelled. While I have bolted from (er, I mean calmly left) my house, assured (falsely) that I am the only one who has a complicated life, I am given a virtual slap upside the head and reminded that everyone has a life (admittedly, some more complicated than others) that they are leading with hopes for little more than happiness and contentedness.
I suspect I am not the only night rider around.*** I am just the one who admits it and, in the process, have likely creeped a few people out. Let me assure you: I am not a voyeur, rather I am curious, compassionate and finding whatever way possible to stay connected…even if just in my heart.
*That’s Yiddish for craziness.
** If I have not been invited in as of yet, I suspect this entry just sealed that deal.
*** My old friend Betsy, who taught me the art of looking into other’s windows, is most certainly one, too.
This morning it finally happened. Lounging in her favorite chair, covered with a soft, fuzzy blanket (despite the fact that it is 100% humidity outside, inside my house it is a little, well, chilly. I keep it at a comfortable – at least by my standards – seventy degrees of blissful air conditioning) Jessie let out a little squeal, involuntarily flapped her hands in the air and announced that she felt “joyful”. My initial reaction was twofold: first, I assumed that her joy was a result of having time to watch some inane show on Nick which she has undoubtedly seen at least seven times already and second, I found her word choice enticing, but a little bit odd…I mean how often do you hear an eleven year old say that they are “joyful”?
As it turns out, Jess’s pronouncement of joy had nothing to do (well, maybe a little bit to do) with her television viewing; rather it was in anticipation of heading off to camp for the day. Yeah, I know, kids love camp. Not so my child. Not so, historically, the camps hosting said child for the summer. And just to sweeten things even more, she went on to say, “I am so glad to finally have found the right camp”* to which I responded (in my head): Hallefuckinglullah!
We are officially past the honeymoon phase of camp life. We are safely enveloped within the camp community. I’ve gotten no phone calls, emails or offers to refund my money. She leaves the house happy. She comes home happy and tired which, all parents will attest, are telltale signs of a great day having been had. She hasn’t hatched a single fake illness or made a case for the need of a mental health day. She tosses around names of kids she has gotten friendly with in a manner far more casual than, well, ever. And, perhaps most fantastic: she has already announced her intentions to return next summer.
Yes, Jess used the word “joyful” today to express how she is feeling. This mom, for today, anyway, is feeling pretty damned joyful herself.
*A million public thanks to Jane and Grace for getting us to this camp. Love to you both for that!