If your kid could tell you what he thought of his summer break, what would he say?
Here's what mine had to say...
It's the day after Labor Day. I'm cruising Facebook. There's one picture after another of kids going back to school in still store-creased polo shirts hauling backpacks better suited for NFL linebackers. The backgrounds of each photo all have one thing in common, the parents of the school-aged child are caught behind them popping champagne corks and dancing in the streets. Summer's over, and parents can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to their previously scheduled kid-free life.
Today, my Mom put a photo of me up on Facebook. In the foreground, she's smiling and the caption reads, "First Day of Camp Mommy." I'm in the background sobbing. Most schools have the good sense to start somewhere right around Labor Day, but mine is different. My school starts in mid-September, leaving my Mom plenty of time for one of her "really cool ideas."
In general, I'm a big fan of summer break. I get to go to sports camp with my buddies, eat ice cream, go swimming and watch TV for no apparent reason. When sports camp finishes mid-August, Mom finds another camp to fill my time, Lego camp being my top choice. If Lego camp is full, she'll enroll me in a boys' dance camp. No space in dance camp? There's always the museum camp or dinosaur camp or art camp or swimming camp, or staring at the wall camp, or anything camp, as long as my time is filled doing what I like to do, relaxing with my buddies and playing Star Wars (which I totally get to watch for real when I'm 6-years-tall.) And my favorite summertime activity? Playing with and talking about my penis.
But this year, right around mid-August, Mom got one of her "really cool ideas." (Her last really cool idea was to call fruit a "snack." Total b.s., in my opinion. Everyone knows a snack is defined as something that can eventually kill you. Before that, her really cool idea was to make a rule that bathroom words can only be said when in the bathroom, alone. Doesn't she know there's no point in saying the word "stinky" if there's no one there to hear it?)
This August's really cool idea involved my Mom not filling the rest of my summer's weeks with a hodgepodge of camps that go well into September and instead, hosting a camp of her own. A camp she proudly calls, "Camp Mommy."
The word "camp" is, in my 5-year-old opinion, one of the universal words that need not be defined or translated. You say camp, I hear fun. Camp means I'll be outside. Camp means tie-dyed shirts, silly dances and loud cheers filled with words I don't understand. Camp means my days will always end with a popsicle.
Clearly, my Mom defines the word "camp" a bit differently. Our first day of Camp Mommy involved a trip to Whole Foods thinly-veiled as an opportunity to practice numbers and letters in the produce aisle. On day two, I had my 5-year-old well visit at the pediatrician's office. Not only did I get a hearing and vision test, I also got a shot in the butt with only a lollipop as a reward. By day 12, I'd gone to Starbuck's four days in a row and not once have I had the opportunity to put paint in my hair or pee my pants. Camp Mommy isn't camp. It's a punishment for my school not starting earlier.
You see, if you were to reverse the angle of any of those "Back to School" Facebook photos and catch the school-aged kids in the background, you'd see juice boxes clinking and more high fives than you'd see at a frat party. You'd see kids giving their bus driver a standing ovation and even bringing their teachers flowers. And you'd see your child getting on the school bus writing "Oh, thank God," on the windows in breath-steam.
Trust me, I know. I've got two more weeks of Camp Mommy. I've picked up 37 loads of dry cleaning (yes, I can now count to 37). I've watched a Pilates class, am on a first-name basis with all the cashiers at Target and Trader Joe's and have had my eyes and teeth checked with such detail, I'm now suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, all in the name of spending time together and getting things done.
Camp Mommy is like a mythical creature on an episode of Scooby Doo; it doesn't exist. Camp Mommy sucks. Next time Mom gets one of her really cool ideas, it better come with a Xanax. For me, not for her. She's having a great time.