Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Camp YaWannaMaybeShower?

Ah, summer.  A time for exploration, fun, and learning --- at camp.  This childhood right of passage continues in our household.  Both boys are signed up for a few different camps so that we, as parents, don't have to come up with songs and crafts and daily entertainment designed to tire them out and use up all that boy energy.  That job is delegated to some weary adult volunteers and kids who are barely older than my own.  But it means a few hours of time to myself, or time with only one half of the Brawl Brothers, so I'm alright with that.

My youngest goes to Cub Scout Day Camp.  He comes home telling me what they did at each station: arts and crafts, engineering, archery, BB guns, swimming, etc.  Apparently they had a helicopter land in the field today and a demonstration of police and K-9 dogs!  All part of the planned activities, don't worry... well, as far as I know... come to think of it, that Timmy is a troublemaker.  Anyway, I guess it beats the entertainment they had the first day when Logan exclaimed, "Today there was a mime.  She sucked."  I answered, "Why would you say that?" and he said "She kept talking".  Ah, well, yes, you might have a point there.  In any case, my youngest packs his backpack each day with the necessary supplies.  Hat, sunscreen, towel, swimsuit, goggles, lunch, canteen - you get the picture.  He can figure this all out on his own and he rarely forgets an important item.

Now, my oldest... well, it's always interesting.  Zack is signed up for his second year of Boy Scout Camp where he will be gone for an entire week. You may not know the ways of the Boy Scouts, but they encourage the campers to be responsible and pack their own bags, without parental help aside from a little oversight and verbal guidance.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I was practically sitting on my hands last year,  itching to jump in and fold things and pack them away perfectly into his giant duffel bag, like olive-colored Tetris pieces.  And how do you convince a child that they will need extra clothes when they insist they've got enough?  Our conversation went something like this:

Z:  OK, I've got everything.
Me:  You only have 3 pairs of underwear.
Z:  Yeah.
Me:  Aren't you gone for 7 days?
Z:  Uh huh.
Me:  Well, you do the math.  How many more pairs of underwear do you need for after the showers?
Z:  They don't have showers.  You use a bucket of water to wash off.
Me:  Excuse me????  Then take some wet wipes to clean yourself and pack some more pairs of undies.
Z:  I won't need them.
Me:  Just humor me!

And when he was away at camp, someone was kind enough to take pictures of the boys during the week and upload them onto their Troop website.  This is an example of what I saw:

This picture doesn't even look like my son.  The dirt has changed his facial features.  He's probably shlepping some of their "bathing water" right there, but I know for a fact that he didn't use it.  He came home with that same dirt smudge on his face 4 days later.  And that shirt never did give up its stains no matter how many loads of OxiClean laundry I put it through.

But here's the kicker:  He only had 2 pairs of Boy Scout olive green socks.  Each day's batch of pictures showed him wearing those green socks so I was cringing.  Two pairs of socks in one week in those kind of dirty conditions???  When would I see him wearing the extra white ones he'd packed?  Well, my answer came when I finally dumped his duffel bag onto the floor of the garage after he returned home.  From the bottom of the bag came 6 perfectly rolled balls of socks, scampering out like frightened little hamsters.  This included one pair of olive green socks.  Yep.  He wore ONE pair of nasty socks the ENTIRE WEEK!  They could've walked themselves home.  He said he couldn't reach to the bottom of the duffel bag to find the extra socks, and they didn't have enough time to change so he just grabbed what he could find.  Ohhhh myyyy.......

I remember a parent laughingly advising us to put a $10 bill at the bottom of the soap container to see if he'd even notice.  I'm pretty sure I can skip that step.  Why even pack soap when we both know it'll never see the light of day.  But I cringe because this year he's signed up for Horsemanship...  Followed by Cooking.  Uh huh.  You can see where I'm going with this.  This year in addition to the dirt, he may return home with some additional friends.  I'll introduce you to a few of them: Valley Fever, Hanta Virus, Swine Flu, SARS, Ebola, Rickets... 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Vacation - Don't You Dare Tell Me You're Bored!

We have finally arrived.  Calendars bear large "X" marks over the past 40 days or so.  Backpacks sit idly by the front door, still holding onto their large stash of end-of-the-year paperwork and quizzes that nobody cared about, boys and parents included.  (Thankfully, I've remembered to remove the lunch bags and dispose of the forgotten half-eaten sandwiches that always morph into a gray kittenish creature by the end of vacation).  Yes, summer is here!

Now what?

I mean, what to do with the kids?  It's a balancing act.  You want to plan just enough activities throughout the summer to keep them from uttering the dreaded "B" word, but they need downtime and days where they can just hang out and enjoy their freedom.  My husband proclaimed that they were to be signed up for a myriad of different camps and activities, and that they would have limited time with any electronic device, and that they needed to start eating healthier.  Of course, he's the one who is at work during the day and I'm the one who has to shuttle them around to said activities and break up fights when they've exhausted their small reserves of brotherly love after being forced to interact together.

I'm all for a leisurely vacation.  I look back on my childhood summers and the best part was the lounging around, not a care in the world.  Mid high school:  I had no job and my days were spent laying out by our pool.  My biggest concern was how much Sun-In to apply to my hair before venturing out.  I can still smell the sweet pina-colada scent that emanated from my SPF 2 lotion.  I had a supply of Sweet Valley High books close at hand.  When the temperatures got too hot I would retreat inside to the cool comfort of my house to watch videos and Remote Control on MTV.  Ah, remember when you could actually watch videos on MTV?  I would set up a blank tape on our VCR so that I could record my favorite ones.  This meant that you had to jump up as soon as the VJ stopped yammering and press record when you spotted the huge hair of your favorite band members.  Thus, my videos always started midway through the first line, but it didn't matter.  I got plenty of Bon Jovi that summer.  Nights were spent at the county fair, eating unhealthy foods and tempting fate on spinny rides that threatened to expel all of the previously tasty treats.  I still cannot look at the "Zipper" without feeling nauseated, but that ride operator really should've cut us off after our third go-round.

So in between the lacrosse, scouts, tennis, bowling, and junior lifeguard camps and activites I will give my boys the opportunity to seek out their own summer memories.  What are they going to look back and remember from the Summer of '13?  Who knows.  But I'm pretty sure it won't involve any peeling skin or orange hair.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Karma Will Bite You In The... Knee?

I have a weakness.  I will always laugh at people falling down.  My good friends know this about me and still love me despite my inability to show compassion when someone goes down.  Don't get me wrong - I honestly worry that they might have sustained an injury.  I just laugh first, and when I can finally wipe away the tears and stop snorting, I will most definitely ask if said person is alright.

It has been this way since I was younger.  My college roommates knew that I would always catch them doing something ungraceful and I could not help myself but snicker.  Thank you America's Funniest Home Videos for providing many decades of hilarious falls.  Yes, I would even seek out online snippets of people falling every which way you could imagine.  And I would laugh so hard I could no longer breathe.  My favorite of all time has to be the Paris fashion show model going down, accompanied by some audio of newscasters who clearly share my weakness for falls.  That wheezing laugh you hear might very well be me.

Here's the thing though.  I think all these years of laughing at people has come back to bite me in the ass.  Or, more specifically, the knee.  Today anyway.  I walked into the building which houses my acupuncturist's office and immediately tripped over the edge of a mat that was right inside the door.  I went down hard - onto one knee.  Let me tell you, I know exactly how many pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure that created!  I hopped up quickly, looked around, and limped into her office where she helped clean up the rug rash that had appeared.  Nothing could be done about the immediate bruising and swelling.  As I lay there later, with multiple needles protruding from my scalp, I couldn't help but picture the scene as if I was an outsider.  I had to stifle my laughter.  I'm sure one would question my sanity if they were to hear hearty guffaws emanating from the otherwise serene, quiet room.  Quiet little snorts of laughter may have escaped unbidden. 

It's not just this one fall however.  I think I've gone down more than the usual number of times in the last few years.  At least one instance can be attributed to my Meniere's Disease and vestibular imbalance.  And maybe a few times were due to a smaaaallll bit of alcohol (probably).  But I have no excuse for the other times that I was just clumsy or ungraceful.  It's definitely karma for all those laughs that I shared at someone else's expense.  Has to be.  I mean, if you were to ask any adult you know how many times they've fallen - all the way to the ground - since they turned 30, the answer will undoubtedly be "zero".  

If in fact, you do know some people who have fallen more than usual, like me, then grab your video camera. Send me the footage any time.