Please help me! My kids have unionized and taken a strict “no camp” position which they insist is non-negotiable. I, on the other hand, come to the mediation table with an equally undebatable policy that not only demands full-time summer camp, but also promises a complete maternal break-down and subsequent walk-out if my demands are not met.
Bottom line; I do not have the time, capacity or stamina to entertain my children 24-7 for 3 months of summer activities. I have come to believe that there are some women (even perhaps a few men) for whom this would not only be possible, but, dare I say, even enjoyable. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I’m not even good at entertaining myself for unstructured stretches of time extending beyond 15 minutes. The combination of me and children for days at a time at record temperatures is like a highly combustible mixture of picric acid and sodium hydroxide. Not something you want happening around the house.
My husband has sided with the children. “You can’t force them to go to summer camp,” he admonishes. “Besides, it’s expensive. And you know how it’ll be to fight every day and force them to go against their wills.”
“Yes,” I concede, “It’ll be hell on a daily basis. But, if I were to put it in Dante-esque terms, I’d have to say that the daily tiffs were more like the first circle, while staying at home with them from June through August plunges into the ninth.” My husband stared at me in bewilderment. He’s not a big Alighieri fan.
“They’ll play together,” he proffers with the simplicity Jack the Dullard. “Yeah,” I reply sarcastically, “Until one of them gets mad and hits the other with a croquet mallet. This is a horrible idea.”
“OK, we’ll hire someone,” he concedes, realizing that unless he’s ready to reenact a modern day version of Medea, he’d better start coming up with a Plan B. “We can use the money we would have spent on summer camp to hire sitters and then they can hang out, relax and swim everyday. It’ll be awesome.”
At this point, I am virtually speechless. I do manage to spit out a single intelligible phrase. “They will be bored in three days time.” Then he slams me with the argument I abhor most. “Well, I didn’t go to summer camp and I managed to entertain myself all summer long. They’re kids. They just want to play.” Then to add insult to injury he adds, “You know, summer camp is an option, not a god-given right. You act like every kid is entitled to go to summer camp.”
“No,” I harshly retort, “Every reasonably sane mother is entitled to send her children out of the house for at least six hours a day. I don’t want to end up a gelatinous puddle of tears every day by the time you get home from work. Trust me, this will not make anyone happy.”
To be honest, I am used to getting my way when it comes to family issues. I often rely heavily on the “I’m the mom, and what I say goes” philosophy of family dynamics. But somehow in this case, I’m not feeling up to waging that battle.
So, we’re going for it. The boys and I will be hanging out at the pool this summer. Feel free to stop by…anytime. We’ll just be here…doing nothing…all day…every day. Dear Lord, please help me find some sort of mental sanity, internal patience, and emotional serenity for what I am about to endure. And please take note that I am on the record saying this may be the single most cataclysmic parenting decision we have made to date.