Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Camp

Today is the first day of summer camp for our kids, and I have to admit that I have some anxiety about it. It's the first time for our son, and he's beside himself with excitement. I'm not sure what to expect for him, but I know I should just lighten up and let him have fun. It's not easy letting go and realizing that your kids will slowly push away from you. At least that's the way it should be. For A, she's practically a pro at this, but even still, it seems like a long day. I can't imagine what it will be like when she goes away to sleepover camp. Say it isn't so. I'm going to do my best to take a step back and let things evolve, because I want them to have fun and to get the most out of the experience.

The whole camp thing has gotten way out of hand, and I realize that much of it boils down to farming out your kids over the summer. I know how hard it can be once school lets out, what the heck are you supposed to do with the kids? It's a rough world out there for families, though a lot of it is self-inflicted. I know of so many parents that, given the choice, opt not to spend time at home with the kids. Our jobs, after all, give us such a sense of our identity and being a parent never really gets the respect it warrants, but that's the world we live in.

Our good friends down the road have a hard time and I wish I could help out more, but again, I think a lot of it is created by the creator. They are way too over-scheduled, enrolling their kid in every sport and after-school activity imaginable. Their kids were away for a week and the morning they were back their kids wanted to get away, and they let them. I think as a parent you need to slow things down and calm the kids down, otherwise they become intolerably distracted. Personally, if my kids were away for a week, I'd want to hold onto them for at least a day to make up for lost time, but that's just me.

One of the problems we seem to run into is that we live differently. We like to spend a lot of quiet time together, just our family, and I've found you really have to be selfish and fight for that time, because if you let down your guard your time no longer becomes your own. For R and I, the best times are just the four of us, alone at home, hanging out. It doesn't get any better. When kids come over that magical time is gone, and the kids have fun, but it does take more effort. I really think our kids are good at playing quietly by themselves, either at home or wherever we may be, and the presence of high maintenance kids definitely compromises that. When I say high maintenance, I mean the ones who either need to watch TV or need to be entertained. It ain't easy.

I'm not here to judge, well, at least not sort of, but I am struck by how difficult it can be. It boils down to taking the hard or easy way. When you're a parent, you can choose the easy path and fill your kids with activities or TV and the job is out of your hands, or you can take the hard way and make a concerted effort for the kids to be self-reliant and introspective. You might say this is a genetic issue, but I don't agree. I think even rambunctious kids benefit from time being in their own heads. If anything, it probably calms them down.

Either way, now that summer camp is here, the kids are thrilled, but I'm hoping it won't be too tiring and overwhelming for them. I just want them to have fun, and if anything, I should welcome the time off for good behavior, sort of.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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