The End is Near (of Summer Camp, That Is)

Friends, I am deeply troubled. Camp is almost over. And I fear it.
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This realization gripped me early one morning as I dozed in bed, causing my heart to seize and my throat to constrict. I bolted upright, clutching my throat, and sat panting in bed, wide-eyed and wondering how in the hell I was going to survive the final countdown to fall. Since then, I’ve lived with a terror that has intensified with each day that draws nearer to the end of camp.

I paid for camp right up until the bitter end, but this camp – the one I considered my friend, my partner and my salvation – closes up shop in early August. That leaves me with four weeks to fill. FOUR. That’s a whole month for those of you who aren’t good with math, and I have no idea how I am going to keep my kids off the sauce (and by sauce I mean the electronics to which they are addicted) while still maintaining my sanity and some degree of office hours. It seems a mutually exclusive situation.

Still, I will try. Because that’s the kind of person I am. Also, I have no choice.

I’ve devised a plan to get a handle on this rather generous lump sum of quality time with the kids I’ve been given and because that was the only way to stop the night terrors. Although I was never one to follow strict schedules when my children were small and super glued to my thighs and I never completely adhered the doctrines of the plan-tastic Super Nanny because I wasn’t disciplined enough, I always followed some semblance of a routine. But I now find I have an overwhelming need for a well organized, highly regimented, smooth running schedule. It’s for our survival.

So come next week I’m launching Mommy Day Camp. Starting every morning promptly at 8:00 A.M. I will march into the children’s room, stand at attention and awaken the them with the strident yet cheerful blasts of a bugle (note to self: Get bugle). Once out of bed they will dine, dress and generally ready themselves. Then it’s onto the MDC summer reading program followed by the writing workshop (in genre of their choice) and rounded out with a math games unit before participation in the camp’s mandatory music appreciation program. This portion of camp is where the kids dig out their rusty guitars from under piles of wet towels and bathing suits, which have been amassing in their rooms all summer long, and practice their instruments for 20 minutes a day or an eternity depending on whom you ask.

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That should bring us to approximately 9:30 A.M., and that’s where I get lost. I’m about out of ideas, and I still have 12 more hours to go. I know I’ve managed it before, and I know I will again summon the strength to get through these trying times, still I worry. Because if I don’t keep my kids busy, their brains tend to rot out of their heads and if I do keep them busy my work tends to suffer. I.e. doesn’t get done.

All I really need to do is make it till noon when the community pool opens, which is where I’ll be stationed every day from 12:00 to 4:00, rain or shine, until school reopens. After 4:00, the typical end of the camp day, the kids are on their own. I don’t care if they watch T.V. or play DS for the next 5 hours straight. I’ve done my part. So that gives me a full two hours before preparing dinner to get all the work I normally do in 7 hours done. Sounds reasonable.

This camp schedule isn’t completely nailed down so I might be able to squeeze in an extra 5 minutes of work time here or there. The thing is I’ve never been able to artfully combine the demands of work with the demands of raising kids. I like both, but I’m only able to do one at a time. And, typically, while I’m doing one, I’m worrying about the other. I’m never completely at ease in either.

In these remaining weeks of summer, I’d like to be able to enjoy a little time off with the kids, but I’m also always chronically low on time. Maybe this is the summer I’ll finally strike the right balance. Or maybe, and more likely, I won’t. But I’ll get by. Somehow I always do, and I think Mommy Day Camp is a step in the right direction. But, Lord, how I miss the kids’ camp already.

What do you plan to do with your kids in the final weeks of summer? And have you ever found the balance?

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