Midsummer Days

Mid summer. August 3. Six weeks since the sigh of release from the tyrant with the warm smile. Six weeks until first day shoes come home dirty.

There’s not much going on here. Kids got a Wii. Heaven or hell, depending which of us you talk to. They: Crack addicts who love the high. We: their family missing them.

Before the Wii came two weeks ago, there was a vacation to Canada, bookended by unending hours of nothing planned—plenty of time for bike riding, swimming and complaining of boredom. Christopher and I, their cruise directors, finally said “enough, we have to work!” so we farmed them out to have some structured fun (and wean them of the Wii). We signed them up for 1 week of camp, carefully researching the best programs for each of their different personalities and interests.

The banner at Emmett’s camp proclaimed “ceramics!” so Christopher described in detail the joys he had as a boy getting his fingers wet in the process of creating a bowl for his mom. Emmett was gung-ho! Until the camp director answered Christopher’s inquiry, “Um, actually, yes it says that, but, um, we don’t have it.”

The brochure for Aaron’s camp proclaimed fun and sun and baseball. Two out of three. “They make you do 5 push-ups if you strike out!” As if the striking out weren’t enough humiliation.

Monday afternoon, back at home. “How was camp?” I gushed, my face on fire with a smile to suggest the answer I was looking for. 

Emmett called his “suckish.” I can’t decide if that’s crude or poetry. Aaron said “Fine” then fought back tears, “I had no one to eat lunch with.”

They wanted to quit. My heart screamed, “of course!”; my mind thought about no-refund policies and my swelling in-box. We three sat on the loveseat, huddled together and consoling each other with closeness, while down the hall Christopher tried to concentrate on his work. In the quiet, I imagined the phone calls I could try to have to fix this for them. Thoughts ping-ponged back and forth—what would a kind, smart mother do? Should I make them go back? Should I be more understanding? What’s the right course?

I got up and went down the hall, told Christopher what they had said, sought his input. He said, Let’s stay put; they’ll be fine. I argued (so much for seeking input.) We sat in stalemate.

Then came four feet running down the hall, banging into the closed door. We were going to be pressed for a decision, and I wasn’t ready. Aaron opened the door. He said, “I could try again tomorrow.” Emmett, too.

Proving once again that (1) they are my heroes and (2) my best parenting happens when I am too flummoxed to do anything.

Tune in tomorrow for . . . how did it all turn out???

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