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Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Week of Saturdays

My husband and I have our summers off.  It sounds dreamy doesn't it?  It does to me too ten months out of the year.  During those ten months I think of everything I would like to do in the summer. The list includes, re-organize the entire house, write a book, cook, go on several field trips to enlighten our sons,  and to do at least one project from Pinterest. So far the only thing we have managed to do was a short field trip to my brother's house where the only education was how to scream explicatives when lighting off explosives (like their father). The last thing I expected to explain to a four year old was what an ass-cap was.  Come to think of it, I don't even know.
Another educational moment came when we had to explain why our puppy was getting neutered. I have never seen more empathy exude from my sons than when they learned that Wally would be having his balls removed.  I have had major surgery where they dug into my abdomen to yank out a live baby, and when I got home they wondered why I wasn't making them pancakes. They didn't let Wally lift a paw.  Inevitably, this was a nice segue into the statement that if boys couldn't have babies or puppies why it was necessary to remove his private parts. Which is a true statement, but trying to explain how was just too much to wrap my mind around. Plus, as my oldest pointed out, if he did get a girl dog pregnant, she isn't our dog so it wouldn't be our problem. I must make a note to revisit this topic when they are in high school.
I have a couple of weeks left and in a last ditch effort I am trying to make the most of my summer.  I have been making lists for each day so that we don't find ourselves at 11:30 in the morning saying "But I thought you fed them breakfast?"
The list included chores as well as fun adventures such as "take a walk".  Much to my surprise it hasn't been as accepted as I had hoped.  In fact, I think I'm the only one who has been following this list anyway. That was until yesterday when Don noticed an appointment to go see Magic Mike with girlfriends.   He explained that I would freak out if he called all of his buddies to go see a movie about girl strippers.   I think once he said it he knew that this was going to cause a minor outburst.
"Excuse me?" I said.  What he seemed to have overlooked, is that he is going to his younger brother's BACHELOR PARTY in a week.  I explained that although I'm going to a fictional story with male actors, (some of which have been classically trained by the way) about male strippers,  I will only be paying $6 for my ticket where last time I checked (which was never) lap dances don't have a matinee rate and I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are NOT classically trained. And while on the subject, I decided to express my disgust that our hard earned money was going to end up in some girls underwear.  It was then he decided to share that they don't wear underwear.
That is an image I didn't need and it didn't really help Don's argument anyway.
Before this summer is over we were determined to have a date night.  Date nights sound good in theory and from what I understand are crucial for a healthy marriage and we obviously needed that (see above argument). It always seems fun until the night actually rolls around.  I'm standing in the bathroom trying to dry my hair in a steamy room because  Don got to take a shower first.  The humidity does not help my attempt to un frizz my hair. Plus the mirror is foggy and I have a two year old trying to brush his teeth standing in front of me. Not only that,  we don't want to spend money because we will be paying our babysitter at least $50. We try and avoid eating dinner out and because of this, we decided to drink our dinner instead.  When its time for us to leave,  I say a little prayer for the babysitter as I sneak out the door. She is left with 4 over excited boys, and 2 dogs wearing e- collars (or better known as cones).
We try and make a point to not talk about our children on our dates, its like talking about work and nobody wants to talk about that when you are trying to relax and have fun.  Speaking of fun, I wanted play an honesty game and asked Don to tell me honestly if I ever do things that annoy him . If you ever think this game is a good idea, let me tell you first hand its not.   I just thought he would say a few little things, like the way I load the dishwasher, and it would give me the opportunity to say something like, how I he avoids laundry like the plague. But the conversation took a wrong turn and he told me some things that were honest, but after a few drinks really hurt my feelings.  For example, that I make healthy substitutions in every meal and that some of time it results in our meals tasting like cardboard.  Or that I never finish the books I start.  I was trying so hard to be the cool girl I was before I was his wife and so when Don mentioned he wanted to go to the Tilted Kilt, I agreed.  This is a girl who never stepped foot in a Hooters.  Now I found myself walking into a place where "T" is the special of the day and "A" is the vegetable.  Not only that, I was the only female. LITERALLY the only female in this establishment that didn't work there.   We sat at the bar and I ordered a beer.  Again trying to be the cool girlfriend.  "Kelly" was the bartender and she was on me like a bee to honey.   I think she found solace that Imaintained eye contact with, well, her eyes.  I did however look at her playboy tramp stamp when she turned around.
She had a playboy symbol with some kind of trellis around it and it got me to thinking, when Kelly told the tattoo artist that she wanted this, what was her motive?  I mean, real playboy bunnies get a diamond playboy necklace and they don't even scar their body with a tattoo that they can't even see.  Or did Kelly think that by having this tattoo that it would be the edge she needed to get her foot into the playboy mansion? This complex inner dialogue was saving me from watching one of the 400 televisions that had baseball on them.  I digress.
Perhapes it was the beer, Kelly or the fact that my Scottish heritage was being mocked by waitresses in infant kilts, but Don's comment about my cooking had been able to simmer and now I was mad.   This came as a complete shock to Don and he thought the guy next to me who had told me his life story had said something to bother me.  I just wanted to go.
Thankfully after so many years my husband knows how to get me out of a funk. He asked me if I wanted to take a dip. This is his cheesy way of asking if I want a dipped ice cream cone. I said no and he ignored me and took me right to McDonalds. By the time I was devouring my ice cream I had forgotten what he said and decided to not ask him if he thought I should get a tramp stamp.
When we got home the boys were fast asleep.  That in itself is worth the $60 we spent.
So this summer hasn't exactly gone the way I had planned it, but when I laid down that night with a killer headache ( I think Kelly roofied me) I got a little excited.  Excited that the next day was Saturday (ok, Wednesday) and we could sleep in, have a lazy morning and snuggle on the couch and do what we please.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Camp Pick Up!

What a long week it has been.  Its hard to explain how missing one child can set me off balance and shake the foundation of our entire home.   With Parker gone, we distracted ourselves with a short road trip to my brother's. Oscar stayed with my parents.  It was like a vacation, not having to run after a two year old for two days. I'm not exaggerating, if Oscar is out of our house he is on the go, and I am chasing him in stores, restaurants, malls and cemeteries, if he is not contained he is running for the hills. We spent our vacation laying by a pool eating good food and drinking good drinks.  Jack belly flopped out of a tree but made sure to scream "I'm Ooooo. kkkkkk on the way down." We let them drink soda and stay up until midnight.  I enjoyed myself but I could' t help but wish Parker was there.
The camp system had a feature that allowed you email your camper. I sent him a few emails (everyday), some a bit mushy due to the alcohol.  A friend of mine wants to invent a breathalyzer on any communication device to avoid embarrassing over indulgent emails and texts.   I only got a little too deep when I wrote , your bed is cold and your room is dark, the house isn't the same.. to a nine year old.
Eventually the pick up day came.  The night before I felt like a house guest was coming. I did all of his laundry, cleaned his room, made a cake, got food for his favorite dinner. I couldn't sleep and woke up early. If this is how I feel after a week of camp, I can't imagine what college is going to be like.  I always thought is was sad when women said that they were nothing without their kids. I never felt that I was a nobody before kids, and I'm certainly a somebody after kids, however this somebody was a pathetic shell of a mother who whined all day and yelled at her husband for letting their first born go to camp.
I wasn't that I just missed him, it was the circumstances that I left. If he would have shown any signs of enthusiasm to go its one thing, but when he is pleading with me to not leave him. Don and I have agreed to disagree on this subject. He said he never said that, but I said he didn't need to because his eyes said it for him.   At least he had a close friend with him.
I pulled up to the cabin at 8:45a.m. , the pick up time was 9. It was a ghost town, apparently they were eating breakfast.  I took that opportunity to go into the cabin and see what it looked like after a week of camp.  It looked like 15 nine and ten year olds plus 4 teenagers who didn't have their mothers cleaning up after them would keep their rooms. I will leave the gory details to your imagination.  I went to Parker's bunk.  His bed was made and his photo album was placed on a shelf.. next to about 4 or 5 skittles wrappers.  I got a letting choked up.  I noticed his friends bunk was empty and figured his parents had been early.   I decided to wait outside for him to arrive.  Another mother had showed up and I could tell she was as anxious as I was.  Her son's cabin came down first. She actually jumped up when she saw him and waved. Her son resisted the urge to run, and cooley sauntered over and gave her a long hug.  I took her as an example.
Parker had been along with these "guys" for a whole week and established his mojo, and I wasn't going to bust it by calling him peanut and picking him up.  I was going to go off of his cue as to how I greeted him.   A few more cabins came down the hill.  I was a mess of butterflies and excitement, kind of how I felt as I waited his birth, minus the killer contractions.   I saw a few familiar boys. I knew the boys in his cabin because they had posted pictures on Facebook of the group, none of which Parker was smiling I might add.
I saw a version of what my son looked like when I left him, except he was about 2 shades blonder, and 4 shades darker.  He saw me and ran towards me screaming "mama!" and almost knocked me down when he hugged me. I lost it.  I tried to hide my tears behind my sunglasses.  I hugged him as long as I could and then took an inventory of his appearance. His clothes were clean, his body...full of poison something and heat rash and I have never thought he looked better.  He said, "I had so much fun!"
The week long of worry was a waste of time.   We went to collect his belongings in  he cabin and he said goodbye to his new friends. The one he came with went home after the second day because he was homesick.  I couldn't believe it.  He was the reason we came to this camp! I felt bad for him, but felt even more proud that Parker stuck it out.
Getting out of camp is a long process, but it gave us time to talk. And by talk I mean ask him questions and getting one word answers.   He had money left over from his store account.  He only spent $26.  I was impressed until he told me that he only got sodas from the store and they were $1. 26 sodas in six days. His pride was that he got bit by a leech and the camp counselors had to burn it off. If that wasn't thrilling enough, he jumped over a snake pit, saw a frog that was bigger than his hand and caught a fish. He also swam, climbed a rock wall, went tubing, shot a rifle and bow and arrow (wait what?) and ate pizza for breakfast (again, what?)
The bottom line is that he had more fun then he has ever had and it didn't include any electronics whatsoever. More importantly, he found confidence in himself that allowed him to try new things and succeed at them only holding himself accountable for his success.  Something I wish I had the confidence to do more.
He told me he won the "coolest middle name award" which happens to be my maiden name. And that the kids in his camp called him by that name all week.  He said he tried to get his friend Joe to stay, but he missed home too much. I asked if he felt homesick and he said only when he thought of us, and so he decided to just not think of us at all.
When we got home he was thankfully for air conditioning and excited to see his dad and brothers. But, more excited to see his dogs.  He took a shower (my strong suggestion) and laid down on the couch.  He fell asleep until dinner, maybe it was lack of caffeine or just the comfort of being home.
As much as I think I need to take care of him, he proved to me that he is fully capable of taking care of himself, and if I think about it, that is what we have been striving for all along.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Camp drop off

A few months ago my oldest son asked me if he could go to camp.  I said no. I didn't even think about it, it just came out, "no".  He sulked a bit and walked away.  A few days later his friend Joe called and said he was going and Parker could be his bunk mate.  With this new knowledge Parker asked Don if he could go and he said yes, it just came out "yes".  Joe is a good friend of my son's but I also know that Joe is the youngest of three and has advanced street smarts when MY son isn't even allowed to cross the street, he is so smart about.  He also has a lot more freedom and the last time I picked Parker up from a playdate they were jumping from a tree house onto a trampoline which had a sprinkler under it. Not only that, this was an ancient trampoline from before my time with rusty springs that were exposed and don't think for a second there was a safety net around it. So when I think of Joe, safety is the last thing that comes to mind.
I made sure to share this info with Don as we whisper argued in bed.  We always whisper in bed even though the boys rooms are on a different floor. I'm even uncomfortable with THAT distance.  Don said he had always wanted to go to camp and his parents didn't let him (my mother-in-law has never looked so wise) and that I had spoken fondly of my camp time.
I guess I was around the same age when I went to the same camp that Parker wants to attend.  Sure I spoke highly of the camp fires and horse back riding, what I failed to mention is that I wore my bathing suit the majority of the time, didn't shower , slept with my camp counselor because I was afraid of the dark and pooped in the lake because I had held it so long for fear of pooping on the camp toilet.
Nope, I hadn't mentioned that.
I reluctantly agreed only because I didn't want to spoil a great time on account of my selfish need to tuck him in every night.   I spent a few days packing his suitcase. I packed an outfit for every day.  Underwear, shorts and a t-shirt ( in that order) tied with a string.  That way he matches and also, I know if he actually changed clothes because he has to untie the string.   PJ's, a couple flashlights, a photo album with pictures of us and his beloved chocolate labs. Bug spray, a body wash-shampoo-conditioner all in one and his stuffed rabbit.
We arrived and discovered that they didn't open the doors until exactly at 2 o'clock, the assigned drop off time.  Despite being on a lake in a very wooded area, we managed to stand for 30 minutes in the direct sunlight on the hottest day of the year.  Welcome to camp kid.
It was miserable.  I could feel the sweat dripping down my chest across my stomach which was stuck in knots.  I looked around.  A lot of little kids with their parents who seemed eager to drop their kids off and run. I on the other hand was plotting an escape with my son and didn't care about my husband. He was a rockstar there, it appeared that he had taught 75% of the campers at one time in their life and every other minute someone was screaming his name and he would give the same smile and wave, even if he knew them or not.  So naturally he thought this camp was awesome.
We were finally allowed in and by that time my shirt was completely stuck to my body and felt so pretty as I met the bubbly teen camp counselors.  I thought I would share that I was an alumni of this camp but realized it was 25 years ago, which is 10 years prior to their existence so I opted to keep my mouth shut.
Parker had been talking for weeks about some swimming test that campers do to assess their level. Yellow is beginner Blue is intermediate and Green is advanced. I think this a fantastic idea because once assessed they wear the color bracelet the entire time.  We walked down to the lake and as I saw the other swimmers doing backstroke, breaststroke and knew he was in trouble. He eased in to the same lake that only 25 years ago his mother pooped in. He did the first lap fine, but he has never even heard of backstroke. I saw him flailing and gasping for air screaming to the lifeguard. It was at that point she told him to stand up.  He didn't realize he could touch the bottom.  I knew this was bad. He had his stone face on which meant he is one crack away from a reluctant breakdown.  He didn't finish the test and returned to us with a yellow wristband which he has to sport the entire week screaming he sucks. He was devastated and couldn't fight back his tears. He may be our oldest, but without his younger brothers around he let his vulnerability show. This is not a good start.  We told him that it didn't mean anything and he argued that a rock could swim better than him, and honestly I had to agree.  I hugged my soaking sobbing son and wrapped him in a towel glaring at Don.  I mouthed "good idea ass hole" Ok, I didn't mouth ass hole, but he got my drift.
We took the long walk to the cabin where we were greeted by four young guys who god bless them,  are going to have quite a week.  I'm coddling my tearful son and I'm sure they could see the helicopter swirling over me and labeled me right away.  I didn't care if they thought I was a hover-mom, I was about to leave my first born in the care of these hormone raging non-maternal "kids".  The camp guy asked how the test went, how do you think it went Mr. Obvious?   Don was trying his best to make Parker feel better who had now declared that he didn't want to go to camp,  and wanted to go home.  Before I could say ok and run, Don was hugging him goodbye and grabbing my hand to go.  I tried my best to break free of his grip, but he is stronger and I gave one last hug to my poor baby whose eyes were now bigger than any puppies pleading with me to not subject him to this torture disguised as camp.
I looked across the lake where there are multi-million dollar homes and wondered if they would rent me a room with a view and a set of binoculars for a week.  As we walked up the hill to our car I had to fight every urge to turn around.  I think that is why Don was walking behind me.  I fought back tears.  We are paying a fortune to leave our son at something he doesn't want to do.    Before I left, I took a care package to the office to be delivered in two days.  Unfortunately one of the items was goggles.  Way to rub salt in the wound mother of the year.
Once we got in the car I kept saying on repeat that this was not a good idea. I stopped the car and said that my intuition was telling me that I needed to go back and pick him up and Don said my intuition had been suffocated by my mom-tuition and that he was going to be fine.  We took a wrong turn to get out and I again reminded Don that this was a sign.   As we got on the main road my ovaries where straining in their magnetic pull toward my baby.  It started to pour down rain.
"Oh great Don, our son will spend his first night away from home, in a torrential downpour which will lead to a tsunami and our son's cabin is right on the lake" TURN AROUND!"
Don was now trying to suppress a laugh as he continued to drive in the wrong direction, which was any direction that was not towards our son.  That made me even more mad and I told him that this was all his fault and we are causing serious damage by abandoning our son. He said that damage pales in comparison to the damage our son would endure if his mommy ran back to his cabin and swaddled him in to a beach towel burrito and bolted.
I guess he has a point.  It has now been five hours.. I don't know how I'm going to last another 148 hours until we pick him up.
I can't call, he can't call me and now I'm wishing I had gotten him that  iphone he has been wanting since he was 7, again bad bad mommy.
This is a lesson for both of us I'm sure, I just haven't figured out which kind.