Summer Camp: a tale of modern parenting

I know that technically you’re not supposed to call your child ugly names. So I have never called my son terrible names… to his face. My husband, on the other hand, has heard me say wretched things about our child’s behavior.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. Nine year old children can be total jackasses when they want to be. So it was really fortunate that summer camp rolled around in July. Neither the kid nor I could take much more togetherness.

But just because I wanted him out of the house for some time, doesn’t mean I didn’t manage to work myself into a perfectly respectable fit over this whole camp situation.

Let me just say here, in my defense, if there were no options to see photos of kids during camp week, things would have been fine. But since the possibility existed, and I knew it existed… things got a little out of hand.

Weeks before camp:

  • Conference with other mothers who previously sent their child to this camp.
  • Request and receive a list of packing essentials.
  • Do nothing with this list. Let it sit idly in my Inbox.

Friday before camp:

  • Wash every stitch of clothing this child owns that still fits. He’s grown at least an inch since school let out and I’m determined he’s going to be dressed like he comes from a respectable home.
  • Search email furiously for packing list.
  • Make trips to Target and Walgreens for supplies.
  • Carefully pack trunk.
  • Review packing system with son, who appears to be daydreaming of ways to kill me in my sleep when I begin the quiz on, “Now where are the clean underpants stored?”

Saturday before camp: 

  • Write a note for every day he’s going to be at camp to give to counselor. No way I’m letting the post office let me down on this.
  • Insert packs of Pokemon cards or Star Wars temporary tattoos in each letter.
  • Address to home and stamp envelopes for him to write letters to us. Resign myself that he is never going to use them.


  • Keep the child from bolting out the door to sprint up the mountain to camp. Manage to wrangle him so he arrives at the opening of the gates, but not before.
  • Check him in. Make his bed. Get him settled. Try not to be offended he basically pushed me out the door.
  • Go home and drink a bunch of bourbon with the husband because we are so happy to be kid free for a week.
  • Watch an R-rated movie BECAUSE WE CAN!
  • Resist the urge to set off leftover Fourth of July fireworks to celebrate an entire week of kid free living.

sunday dropoff


  • Begin stalking the Facebook page for photos of my kid.
  • Super sure that he’s having a blast and can’t wait to see his smiling face.
  • Don’t see him in any photos.
  • Immediately create scenarios in my mind that he’s injured or in some kind of emotional pain.
  • Talk myself out of this craziness.
  • Get some work done.


  • Continue Facebook stalking for photos.
  • FINALLY find one! Sorta.
  • I can identify that he is still in possession of all four limbs.
  • Push aside concerns of decapitation.

Tuesday photo



  • Find him in group shot.
  • Notice his head is looking down.
  • Become convinced he is sad or had a fight with a friend.
  • He obviously misses me.
  • Is he sitting in his cabin sobbing for his mother right now?
  • Husband points out that, possibly, he just happens to be looking at the ground in that particular shot.
  • I shout things about how I’m not crazy. Husband sighs and shakes his head at me.

Wednesdy photo


  • Only photo post is of a watermelon grown on site.
  • A watermelon.
  • Much vodka is consumed.



  • Fly out of bed and get on the road as early as possible to not seem like a crazy person.
  • Clap my hands like a football team warm up while my husband drives a reasonable speed to get to camp.
  • See my kid. Smile like a maniac.
  • Realize he’s DISAPPOINTED we’re there to pick him up because he’s had so much fun, he doesn’t want to come home.
  • Speak to counselor to discover part of the fun was running a criminal syndicate out of his cabin with a buddy to procure all good Pokemon cards from other kids. Counselor put a stop to all trades.
  • Get home to begin unpacking trunk. Realize all the careful prep in the world doesn’t make a 9 year-old boy change his underpants when you’re not around to remind him.
  • Listen to stories all evening about “THE BEST WEEK EVER!”

Friday pickup



  • Two letters arrive from camp.
  • Each is request for me to bring him new toys or Pokemon cards. Realize my son thinks all letters should really just be addressed to Santa.
  • Put letters in my “Keep Forever” box.
  • Walk around with a goofy smile most of the day because my boy is home again.




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