There is a countdown going on right now at my house. 22 days until the kids leave for URJ Camp Harlam in the Poconos. I’m not sure who is more excited about it—the kids or me. Sure, I have 21 days of shopping, packing, and labeling clothes and various accoutrements for both kids ahead of me. But when all is said and done, I will have two happy kids at overnight camp and two happy adults at home. Of course, I will miss them—especially for the first few days. But I know I will get over it quickly. They will be back soon enough. After a year of illnesses in my extended family and hundreds of trips schlepping the kids to and from various school and extra-curricular activities as well as dealing with schoolwork and life in general, we could all use a little respite. Overnight camp provides the break we all need. This is Jenna’s 4th year at Camp Harlam and she is looking forward to going off the grid and hanging out with all of her friends. Andrew is starting overnight camp for the first time this year and, while I’m a little concerned about how he will adjust, I know he is going to have a wonderful experience. As for my husband and I, this is a staycation. People ask where we are going while the kids are away at camp. Um, nowhere – we still have to PAY for camp leaving little money for a second honeymoon. But I do have a list of things to do while the kids are away. • Enjoy 3 ½ weeks of not being a slave to the calendar. For 49 weeks out of the year, I struggle to carve out any quality time for myself or for my husband because we are hopelessly trapped in the web of our densely packed calendar. • Reconnect with my husband by having a lot of date nights, long walks & talks and simply reminding ourselves how much we enjoy each other’s company. • Go on day trips: A night out in the city; A hike and picnic in a pretty park; A day on the boardwalk at the Jersey shore • Invite some friends over for wine and adult conversations. • If I have the energy, I might partake in some household projects such as cleaning out closets and reorganizing some rooms in the house. No promises though. • READING – So many books…so little time. Three and a half weeks should be long enough to put a dent in my Goodreads list. • WRITING – Finding the time to write is such a sacred thing for me and having the quality and quantity of time to do it will be wonderful. I just hope I don’t have any writer’s block. • AND OF COURSE – Refreshing the camp website. If you don’t know what this means, click here.
In three days, the curtain will go up on the 5th grade play–The Jungle Book– with my son Andrew playing Mowgli. How could I not be proud on such a wonderful occasion?! His first audition ever and he gets the lead in the show! I’ve done my best to contain my excitement and not to go all Beverly Goldberg on him. It hasn’t been easy. I realize that I am a little bit like that dreaded stage mom. After we found out he had the lead, I worried over how he would learn 40 plus lines in a little over a month, plus the songs and the choreography. He never had to memorize much more than a list of spelling words before. How was he going to pull this off? “Do you know your lines?” I asked each night. “Yes, Mom,” he said with the occasional eye roll. “I’m here to go over them with you if you want, sweetie,” I said casually. Inside my mind was racing…dying to know how far he got in learning his lines. “Okay!” he replied, but he never asked me to read with him. Not once. I decided not to push it. During one parent meeting, I took the music teacher aside to ask him how Andrew was doing. Should I push harder to read with him? Does he need more practice? What can I do to help him? He assured me Andrew was doing fine and he wasn’t worried about him one bit. Easy for him to say. It’s not his kid going up there. About a week later, Andrew’s spring allergies kicked in big time. His watery eyes turned into a terrible runny nose and eventually a croop-like cough and then laryngitis. That’s right. LARYNGITIS! My kid can’t have laryngitis. I’m sure you know where this is going. I made a sick visit with his allergist the very next day. I have had a few other stage mom moments. I almost lost it on my husband when he innocently suggested taking Andrew for a haircut. Was he joking? Mowgli doesn’t have a crew cut! Andrew’s hair has to be long and messy as if he actually lived in the jungle. And then there was the time when Andrew told me play practice was fun, but he told me how he wasn’t sure if he could actually get up on stage and play his part in front of the entire school. I took a deep breath and told him it was a little too late to worry about that. But then, there was the final straw. One minute Andrew was standing at the kitchen counter looking at a Minecraft video on his phone. The next minute, he was on the floor in tears holding his leg after tripping over the dishwasher door which was open. I admit that my first thought was not the typical “Is he ok?” It was more like: “WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?! ANDREW, GET UP! THE SCHOOL PLAY IS NEXT WEEK! YOU CAN’T BE MOWGLI WITH A BROKEN LEG. CAN YOU GET UP? CAN YOU WALK?!” And then after a brief moment of silence I added, “I mean…Are you okay?” Luckily, he is fine. I just need to keep him in a bubble for the next 72 hours. A bubble that will protect him from sickness and/or injury. Did I mention he has no understudy? I want him to do well. I want him to enjoy himself. And okay yes, I want to see his adorable face shine on the stage. This may be my only chance. Who knows if he will ever want to be in a play again and Broadway isn’t exactly knocking on our door-yet.
Every Sunday night, I look at the calendar to compare kids’ schedules and find that magical balance again between career and family. Currently, my life feels like one giant and sadistic word problem which I am required to solve on a daily basis. Here is today’s word problem: Child A and Child B had the 4 pm slot reserved at the dentist to get their teeth cleaned. Last week, Child B’s appointment had to be rescheduled until June due to an entire month’s worth of play rehearsals. Child A’s appointment was cancelled first thing this morning once I realized she had a track meet this afternoon. In the meantime, Child B is supposed to report to his baseball game exactly 15 minutes after play practice is over–leaving me less than 10 minutes to prepare dinner and commute to the game in rush hour traffic. Oh by the way, Child A & B have two parents who work outside of the home and have limited time to do the important things like making sure baseball uniforms and track suits are clean. Here are some questions to solve:
- How is Child A getting home from her track meet which ends at the precise time that Child B is being dismissed from play practice?
- What can Child B possibly eat that is healthy and nutritious on the car ride from school to the baseball field? Sub-question – What is Child A having for dinner while both parents are at the baseball game?
- What is the probability that I will be able to get simultaneous dentist appointments for Child A & B before the school year ends?
- How long before my head explodes?
I must “kvell” for a minute as I tell you I received high marks in creative problem solving today. If you haven’t figured out the answers yet, times up! Here is your answer key:
- A newly minted driver in our neighborhood was more than willing and extremely kind enough to pick up Child A from track practice and bring her home. I trust her completely and in my time of need she became my saving grace. I’ll be calling her again soon.
- Child B ate chicken nuggets from a Ziploc bag on the way to the baseball game. The orange peels on the floor of my car prove he polished off something nutritious as well. EXTRA CREDIT POINTS!: Child A found a Lean Cuisine in the freezer. Good enough!
- Child A & B are miraculously scheduled for dentist appointments in early June at the same time. I’ll have to pick them both up from school early, but they aren’t learning much at school in June anyway. (Just say a prayer there isn’t an 8th grade picnic that day…)
- I felt pretty good about the outcome of this crazy Monday. I kept my cool and felt I had everything under control….until I turned the page to Tuesday. Cue the head explosion!
Is it Friday yet?