Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the not-so-happy camper

We made the decision to sign the triplets up for full-day camp a few weeks ago when we realized that in order to get adequately prepared for this rapidly upcoming move, we need TIME.

Not the magazine, mind you, but that stuff that flies by during the day, and is especially gobbled up when there are little people running about fighting and/or asking you to drop everything that you are doing and come look at the lady bug crawling around on the leaf in the backyard.

Awesome? YES.

Unproductive? EXTREMELY.

Especially since they'll want you to sit there all day, and believe me, there's nothing I'd rather do than sit and watch a lady bug crawl around on a leaf but there are baseboards to paint! and fences to mend! and windows to wash! and boxes to organize! and ... the list is five pages long and growing by the hour.

The kids were very excited about camp.

That is until we woke them up at 6:45 this morning and sat their groggy and confused little bodies before bowls of cereal. Although they go to bed by 7:30 PM, most mornings they don't roll out of bed until at least 8 AM, so this morning their systems were shocked. Today they were already dressed, slathered in sunscreen and holding lunch boxes with a days worth of food, at a check in line for a camp that is 30 minutes from our house ... at around the same time they're typically opening their eyes to see the first light of day.

As I walked them around and showed them where the bathrooms were, and where the counselors were, and where their lunch boxes were I started to feel a bit anxious about leaving them because, as it happened during their brief stint in Montessori, I worried if I've prepared them enough for the outside world? Do they know everything that they need to know about staying safe when Charlie and I are not there watching them every minute?

(Answer no.)

But they do know how to punch a potential kidnapper in the jugular.

(Which is useful, except if the potential kidnapper scooped them up by their feet.)

(Why do these thoughts invade my brain space?)

This morning, I stopped myself in just the nick of time from saying things that I know would have either frightened them to their core (William) and/or made them roll their eyes at me in boredom (Carolyn and Elizabeth). What were those cautionary thoughts, you wonder, that were swirling around my mind?

"Make sure that you don't go anywhere with an adult that you don't know. (Unlikely because it was like a maximum security prison getting in and out. Bonus Points.) And whatever you do, close the door whenever you use the restroom. Don't let anyone touch your private parts and if anyone asks you to touch theirs, yell NO and run away. Also, don't share food with other children because you don't know if someone might have a food allergy and I don't want you eating food that doesn't come from OUR house, because what if they have cats walking on the counter with chunks of kitty litter on their paws or what if they pick their nose and don't wash their hands before handling? Also, if someone tells you to keep a secret - make sure you tell me. I need to know EVERYTHING.

(Charlie, CHARLIE! How do you know if this camp is fully safe? During registration did you inquire if all of the counselors have a background check? What were the results? What were the screening criteria? Can I get a copy of any reports generated?)

But I didn't trouble my children with my thoughts. Instead, I told them to be extra safe and look out for each other. Then I squeezed them in a tight hug and looked in to their eyes, making every attempt to connect on some spiritual level and convey the deep, unconditional love that I have for them. And I did my absolute best to summon prayers of safety that would wrap around them and shield them like a blanket of peace and protection.

As I stood, choking back the lump in my throat, wondering how I'll cope when just Henry goes off to school, without the protection of similarly aged siblings, the kids looked right through me and my fears and shouted, "OH MY GOODNESS!! MOM! IS THAT ARCHERY?!"

(Yes, it is! But ... but ... Bows? Arrows? Are you NUTS? NO YOU CAN'T PLAY THAT! Look what I see! Paint by numbers! Kids!! This will KNOCK your socks off!!)

After we bid our children farewell, Charlie and I drove home and while I set about working, Charlie curled up with Henry and read no less than 12 books. Then, they took a nap.

(So much for TIME and taking a crack at that huge list of things that need to get done.)

We blinked a few times and we needed to go pick the triplets up again.

Despite the fact that they really had a fun time, tonight, as I was tucking William in to bed, he made it abdundantly clear that he DOES NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO CAMP. He'd rather stay home with me. Forever. I told him that camp will only last until Friday, but later this year, he'll be starting school and school will be every day, for several months.

Upon hearing this, my son dissolved in to tears.

He told me that he was the most unlucky little boy in the WHOLE world. I asked him where he was, was he laying in a bed or on the ground? "In a bed," he said. And did you have a nice dinner tonight, or did you have to hunt around in trashcans for something to eat? "I had a nice dinner," he replied. And did you take a nice bath with clean water in a tub, or did you have to soak in a muddy river? "I took a nice bath with my baby brother."

He eventually conceded that maybe he wasn't THE most unlucky little boy in the whole world, but it would be so much better for him to stay home with me than go to camp. Or school. Or anywhere, for that matter, that would require getting up before 8 AM.

When I asked what he'd like to do while he was at home, without hesitation he declared, "Read. I just want to sit on your lap and read stories. Every. Day."

"Well," I told him. "That really does sound wonderful. But the thing is, you need to go to school so that you can learn how to read. And write. And do mathematics. That way, when you grow up - you can get a job and earn money so that you can buy your own house!"

He gave me a deeply troubled look and said, "No. That doesn't sound like a very good idea. I think I'd rather live here with you in THIS house."

I could tell that any more talking about growing up and moving out and buying a house would cause my young son a great deal of angst so I told him that he was more than welcome to stay with me for as long as he'd like (which he is, by the way). "But," I added, "When you do go to school, you'll really learn how to read and then, just think of all the amazing things that you'll be able to discover! You can pursue your dream of being a scientist!"

He gave an exasperated sigh before saying, "Mom, I already know how to read 'Go Dog Go.' Let's just leave it at that. OKAY?"

Well, okay. That sounds good enough to me. Really, what more must an education consist of, than reading about dogs that drive cars and wear fancy hats to a party in a tree?

So that, Mr. Truancy Officer, is why my son stays home.


  1. Oh my Jen!!! What a post! I can't believe the trips are going to be off at school. I'M not ready! William melts my heart.

  2. LOL - well, he's got a point. If you can read Go Dog Go then you've pretty much covered all you need to know in life.

  3. OMG, Jen. You told him he could live at home with you forever? Jen. Jen. Jen. One word.


    Jerry's mom told him the same thing. He's FORTY now.

  4. William is the cutest little thing! We have similar conversations with some frequency, but I thought it was because my girls spend nearly 11 hours at daycare every day. It's nice to know that I couldn't win, no matter what I did.

  5. LOL, you guys handle moving and selling the house much like we did. Deny, ignore, nap. Then work like maniacs when you absolutely have to. Is there any other way? :)

    I did all of the touch-ups in one weekend. I then rented two of those door-to-door storage units, threw all of the clutter into them and locked the doors. Easy peasy, no worrying about where to put all the crap while the house was on the market. Then we pretended we were Rockefeller and hired packers/movers when it was time to move.

  6. It occured to me that you might benefit from a cleaning/packing/organizing system called FLYLady... NOT that I am commenting on the cleanliness of your home; however, she has a section on getting prepared to move. I've been using this (totally free) plan for about 5 weeks, and my house looks completely different.

    Anyway, I don't work for them, or have any financial connections at all. It has just been a really incredible help for me to get my home and life in (better) order with three small children. If you want to check out the moving tips, you can find them here:

    Best of luck with your upcoming move!

    Sarah L

  7. Ha ha, he's so cute! I just wanted to let you know that I sent my daughter to preschool for the last school year and for at least 1/2 of the year or more she would say she didn't want to go, and then as soon as we got there she ran off without me to hang out with her little friends. So - I think it's a reflex thing, esp. if he makes it there and isn't crying or anything. I worried about it for a few months, but she could never tell me why she didn't want to go other than staying with me all day (which, since I work full time, has never happened). They will enjoy school a lot, it's hard at first though, it just means they are now old enough that you can remember that age approximately - that kills me.

    Good luck moving!