Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nobody Puts Baby in the Day Camp

~Reminder to get in on the giveaway of super delicious candy! Thursday is the deadline.~

With that official business out of the way...

There seems to be a popular theory that is subscribed too in my little corner of the world. And that is What Are Your Children's Scheduled Activities For The Summer? Every time I'm approached with this question my answer is "nothing". Which is met with genuine shock, like "Shooooo...lady you crazy"! But what actually comes out of their mouths is, "But won't they get bored? Won't they drive you nuts?", and this saddens me. This "What are you going to DO with them for ALL that TIIIME?". Those comments seem to indicate that their children aren't seeking activities that they're interested in; they're being put somewhere so that their parents don't have to deal. Yes, there will be more than a few occasions where my children will be testing the absolute limits of my patience this summer or I'll want to set myself on fire if I hear just one more "But he's looooookiiiiinnng at meeeeeee!", and I'll probably compose a blog post or two about how you need to talk me down and that I should perhaps jump into the bottom of a Xanax bottle for some comfort and relief.

I had one woman who would not take "nothing" as an answer and seemed to be making it her personal mission to see that I had some child-free time to myself during the upcoming summer break. Her suggestion went exactly this way (and read it really fast without taking a breath as if all the words ran together): "Because my church has this camp but it has a waiting list but if I tell them you're a friend of mine I'm sure that they would sign you up but you have to let me know right now because the cutoff is next week so if you want your kids to go to my church camp did I mention one of the things they do is kind of a movie making camp sounds fun right so do you wanna, huh, because I need to know right now why aren't you saying yes it's not a hard decision plans? what plans? how do you know if you'll have plans this will be your plan I just need to know right now and then our kids could be there together and maybe you and I could go get a cup of coffee or something you like coffee right so what do you say?...." ETCETERA because there was more. Then I got up off the floor because the shock waves from all that threw me back and to the ground like a rag doll and at the same time the whole world pulled away while the camera zoomed in on me. I'd be remiss not to mention that this woman is just barely an acquaintance.

Aside from the fact my husband would make sure my body was never found (think: wood chipper) if I sent our children to church camp, the truth of the matter is that I like spending time with my kids. I like waking up one vacation morning and saying, "hey, I know what lets do! Beach!! or Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Catalina, Santa Barbara, zoo, water park, we live in California for godsake so let's take advantage of that". Not only that, but one day, and sooner than I'd like my kids will be making their own summer plans that don't include me. And one day they'll be gone for good as adults with their own lives and families. Why would I be eager to get them out of my hair now?


Anonymous said...

Enjoy every minute with them...it gives you something to remember and smile about when you are wondering "where are you and why have you missed your curfew?"..

Anonymous said...

It's so fun to have no schedule so every day can be an adventure. It drives me nuts when parents have their kidlets busy all summer. Because then who will my kids play with?

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

I'm SORTA on the same page as you. We have one week of church camp planned and that is after two solid weeks of two different vacations. The church camp is so that I can get my head back on straight and because the kids love it and because I will have more laundry than I have clothes which would actually be impossible I guess. Other than that, we are going to be going to the park, reassembling our trampoline whenever the parts get here and we are going to see the kids' grandparents a lot. Because that is what you are supposed to do in the summer. I remember as a kid feeling sorry for the kids that went to camps because how fun could that be.

I have neighbors who have teenagers and what they wouldn't do to have time with their kids again. Their kids don't want to be seen with them these days. It has been a great lesson for me.


Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

By the way, I feel like I want to say that the church camp is from 9-noon for 5 days. Not a send your kids away type of thing or even a full day thing. I might have my morning coffee in peace while I wake my summer self up.


Jennifer said...

I'm glad it's not just me. My kids are still young (under 7) but still, I don't want to spend my summer on a schedule, running them around from place to place. It's enough to be on a schedule all school year. Besides, we spend part of the summer at my in-laws' lake house in Louisiana which is like summer camp for me as well!

Burgh Baby said...

I'm so with you. An acquaintance of mine is currently trying to find something for her kid to do between Harry Potter camp and Basketball camp. I suggested hang out at home for a week and she went all flippy. Personally, I like my kid. I'm just fine hanging out with her.

Cheaper in Baht said...

I am so by your side on this. I put mine in swim lessons at our local public pool, because it's good for them. Then there's a sheep farm "camp" that's more like an extended play date for 3 days. It's good for them to have some real farming experience. After that, it's just us. We go on adventures. We'll drive to neighboring small towns to play in their parks, or look for crop circles.

I LOVE summer

Anonymous said...

You said it nicely. I like my kids and am getting nervous as my 13 year old isn't so sure she likes us now. Summer with them is great. Besides that, most camps are way expensive and our church camp is way mediocre. Three weeks until school is out :)

Anonymous said...

I have one of those acquaintances. Do we have to befriend every parent of our child's friends? It is called personal space PEOPLE! Right on for the summer off. Remember when we used to wander and play aimlessly all summer, always "busy" doing something that didn't cost $200 bucks a week or more.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that...I whole heartedly agree with you. They are only young once and there's nothing better than non-scheduled, carefree days!

Glennis said...

How true! I remember those adventures with my son when he was little. (they always seemed to end up with us going to some distant plant nursery, but I'm sure he had a great time!)

Now, my summer connection with him is to wake up in the morning and check the driveway to see if his car is there, meaning he came home last night.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you! I'm looking forward to NOT having to wake up at a certain time to run places this summer. We can just hang out and NOT do anything unless we want to. Not to mention, I work full time also, so I don't get to spend as much time with them as it is.

Found you via the Dad Gone Mad Links!

OHmommy said...


It is frightening at just how alike we really are. Seriously.

I bypassed the church camp sign-ups at pre-school at people stalked me asking what the matter was.

Ummm... I want to go to the beach. And some hikes. And the city.

I love you. That is all.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

We've always done one cool camp a summer and that's it. The rest of the time we swim, beach it, veg, etc. You said it--it's SoCal--if you can't find something fun to do with your kids you've got a real problem.

It is sad that some people seem to be afraid of spending time with their kids.

Anonymous said...

And frankly, all that planning is a LOT of work and money. If we stay home, they tend to occupy themselves JUST FINE and I don't have to drive them anywhere and make sure they have the right gear and then pick up so-and-so on the way and afterwards stop for a treat/snack and sign up and pay for the affiliated camp to make said first experience even better ... I'm a huge advocate of idle parenting, too.

Madge said...

thank you!!! my kids are not signed up for one single extra-curricular activity this summer. we keep them home and get them good and bored so by mid-august they happily run back to the arms of their teachers for nine months!

Paula Lynn Johnson said...

Last summer I did weeks of the 9-12 mini-camp thing, thinking I'd go nuts otherwise. You know what drove me nuts? Driving back and forth to camp to drop off/pick my kids up! This summer it's one week art, one week horses, which they both asked for.

Camp costs can be staggering -- the elite camp here can set you back 3 grand or more for the summer.

Anonymous said...

I am with you and not with you on this one. I have not signed my boy up for any structured camps except for a one week basketball intensive. I'm keeping it easy but I know that after the first week I'm gonna wanna strangle him! Most of his friends are in camps, so I dread the whining and the boredom. Because as much as I want to say we'll go to the beach, and Disneyland, etc, I have work to do and can't occupy him every minute. If you see a woman teetering at the top of the Palisades bluffs, you'll know it's me.

barbra said...

I am with you. All of the talk about "what are your kids doing this summer?" starting two years ago led me to take the kids to my parents' in Oregon for a month. This will be our third year of that.

I like to use our home time in the summer as a chance to explore as well, since there's not much chance during the school year.

However, I also like for my kids to take advantage of the opportunity to try camps or activities that we don't have time for during the year. Big Girl will spend a week making puppets and three weeks in a theater camp. She specifically asked me if she could do both of them. In other summers, she has done a Jr. Zookeeper thing (in Oregon) and art classes. She loves extracurriculars, but we don't have time for everything during the school year, so the summer is the perfect time to do them!

Madame Queen said...

Can I come spend the summer at your house? Cause it sounds rockin'!

Anonymous said...

I have my kids signed up for a couple of weeks of day camps, where they'll go and play sports and make chintzy crafts...but it was their request. I can't imagine not spending time with them. I actually enjoy them 99% of the time.

Ahhhh there's always some people. But you're right....one day they'll be planning Spring Break trips without us and then where will we be?

scargosun said...

That whole summer thing was one of the conversations I had nothing to add to last week when I talked about not having kids of my own. I couldn't believe how much stuff these kids were scheduled for.

Muddlin' Mother said...

OH, memememememe!! I need chocolate.

~Molly~ said...

Bravo!! We homes/unschool so I've got mine with me 24/7 most times. I LOVE being with my kids, they are funny and smart. We have a great time together. They certainly do find plenty to entertain and teach themselves with on a daily basis without me having to have it arranged with "professionals".

Found you through your comment at BOSSY's today.


The Girl Next Door said...

I am so envious. My kids are nearly grown and I have a full time job outside the home. I miss the time when they were little, I was a SAHM and we hung out by the pool, went to parks, had water balloon fights, chalked up the driveway with silly art, played in the garden, took spontaneous road trips. Sigh...have a great summer!

{sue} said...

AMEN, sister! I get that Look all.the.time. Even if I wanted to send them to camp (which I don't), as a SAHM, I have a hard time justifying the expense. Especially when we have pool, zoo and aquarium memberships - those are my plans for the summer. (Yeah, and the occassional xanax.)

Anonymous said...

i totally agree, what happened to summer vacation? and I dig Santa Barbara and am really jealous that you are so close.

Anonymous said...

I am with you on this one and I am so happy to see the internet is too!! IRL I have been getting open mouthed stares and spluttered "three months", or "three children under 7".

Well, when I was growing up summer camp was something you saw on TV. Have we all become so soft?? I know there will be times I will want to strangle them and times we will all be bored but that is what life is all about.

I do envy you California though. I am planning the occasional museum visit, playdates and the local pool.

Tricia said...

It just takes all kinds of decisions to make the world go round, right. My son loves to be with other children, and he's not going to find any at home. Plus what are the working moms of the world supposed to do, we can't take all summer off, albeit it does sound nice. Oh the possibilities.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I hope that it's understood that I don't mean parents (working or otherwise) who have a need to see that their children are supervised when they can't be with them. I'm talking about the parents who seem to be eager to get their children away from them.

Anonymous said...

We've always had at least one "class" of some sort. This summer he'll have a few hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays with other kids. Without money to pay for a sitter, without any family around, a few hours a week away from me (total momma's boy) is good for him & good for me.

Anonymous said...

Nope. No scheduled activities here either. That's what summer's about -- lazy, do whatever days -- isn't it?

I'm so looking forward to our Fridays at the pool. (Me in a suit however, not so much. THAT, I can do without.)

Cynthia said...

Good to hear. My Mom never had planned stuff for us. Summer was freedom! Sounds like you have a good time:)

Anonymous said...

Both of my parents worked, so my mom being the health nut that she is made sure I was in day camps all summer long so I wouldn't sit in front of the TV and veg for three months (and I totally would have). But had she been a SAHM, I would've loved to have her there to do stuff with me.

MommyTime said...

Are you actually inside my brain, and I just didn't know it?? Because I've been thinking the same thing every time I talk to people who are signing their kids up for a zillion different camps and activities for the summer -- as if it's simply not possible for children to enjoy reading, then playing in the yard for a while, then eating a popsicle, then wandering down the street to a friend's house for a while. You know, just having some time to BE. I get why this is necessary if you have two parents who work fulltime. But if you don't? Why is it such a sin to just let your kids figure out how to have fun without some overly-chipper instructor giving them the directions and all the pre-cut-out pieces to assemble?

Anonymous said...

AMEN! You have to enjoy them when they're young, most definitely. I think of this every time I get a little worn out (by Erma Bombeck):


A young mother writes: "I know you've written before about the empty-nest syndrome -- that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you.''

OK. One of these days you'll explode and shout to the kids, "Why don't you grow up and act your age?"
......and they will.


"You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do. And don't slam the door!"
......and they don't.

You'll straighten up the boys' bedroom neat and tidy -- bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you'll say out loud, "Now I want it to stay this way.''
.......and it will.

You'll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn't been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you'll say, "Now, there's a meal for company.''
.....and you'll eat it alone.

You'll say: "I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do your hear?''
.....and you'll have it.

No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghtetti.

No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms.

No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps.

No more clothespins under the sofa.

No more playpens to arrange a room around.

No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent

No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathrooms.

No more iron-on-patches, wet, knotted shoestrings, tight boots, or rubber bands for ponytails.

Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it.

No baby sitter for New Year's Eve.

Washing only once a week.

Seeing a steak that isn't ground.

Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.

No PTA meetings.

No car pools.

No blaring radios.

No one washing her hair at 11 o'clock at night.

Having your own roll of Scotch tape.

No more dandelion bouquets.

Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste.

No more sloppy oatmeal kisses.

No more tooth fairy.

No giggles in the dark.

No knees to heal, no responsibility.

Only a voice crying, "Why don't you grow up?'' and the silence echoing,
"I did."

Unknown said...

Thank Gawd, what a relief to hear those words fall from the lips of another Mother!
I count down the days to summer vacation faster than my nine year old and am the one crying at the end of the driveway the first sad morning in September when they come back to get him.
I love every mindless minute of summer : )

stephanie said...

Short answer: I love my children and want to spend time with them.

Longer qualified answer: I want to have some uninterrupted time to plan my school year, get my house in order, and indulge in 'me' time. So I have scheduled my kids for a couple of day camps this summer.

That said, I would never presume to know what's best for another parent. And you are so very right about letting kids be "bored" - that's when they get the most creative.

San Diego Momma/Two Funny Brains said...

I was going to post that I'm 50-50 on this -- I want to be with my kids...but ALSO have some me/work time.

BUT THEN, I read Susan's comment, cried, and decided I want to be with my kids 100%.


EatPlayLove said...

See, I like the best of both worlds. I need space and my 4 year old really does love socializing, she gets so bored of me and my projects!

We are just doing a local mellow camp, a few hours three days a week in the month of july.

Then I have to go to costco and stock up on tissues because I will be sobbing when she starts kindergarten the second week of August.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Okay. Whoa. I am having the EXACT. SAME. EXPERIENCE. I have not signed up Laura for ONE. SINGLE. THING. this summer because I want to spend it with her DOING. WHATEVER. WE. WANT. And it is making everyone's eyebrows go up. And their eyes open wide. And their jaws drop a little.

So . . . since we are both in California, I say we meet for fun and frolic.

Indy said...

I hear you. I am not a big scheduler. I know some people keep their kids busy so they won't go crazy. I think it all depends on what state of mind you are in and what works for each family.

Shania said...

I love being home with the piglet all summer. What I don't love is that everyone assumes that since I like to be home with him, that I'd equally enjoy being home with their kids. As in "can I drop Bratty McBratster off for a few hours? I know you're home anyway". Sure! My daycare rate is $200 per day.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Thanks, summer is our downtime too; though sometimes I feel guilty because everyone else is so busy.

It doesn't feel like summer if you're busy, you know?

Anonymous said...

We're also doing "nothing" this summer so let me invite ourselves to do nothing with you guys if you're ever up for it. I'm all for the beach, the SB Zoo and over-staying my welcome at someone else's pool.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for summer to start! I'm looking forward to NOT packing lunches and NOT checking homework and NOT having to nag my children about anything.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! Let'em be kids. I personally feel like my children have to have summers full of swimming, popsicles, lightning bugs, and me saying "Go outside already! And close the door!" LOL

JCK said...

I like your way of thinking!

Anonymous said...

I signed the boys up for a few things, but considerably fewer than I wanted. A needs to be around other kids, and J wants to be entertained 24/7. They're in for a surprise this summer: no constant mom entertainment, very little tv, very little computer time...go play, dudes. We'll go hiking and biking and fun stuff too. Should be fun.

Wineplz said...

I don't know what I'll do with my kids each summer since I work...especially once Gavin's too old for Before/After care and/or "summer camp" (I think their cut-off is age 12). But if I was able to be home with my kids, I might still be temped to send them to a day camp for a week or something to break up the monotony of sitting at home playing with mom. But it would be something they're actually interested in...not just me getting them out of my hair.