camp time

I have been all out of whack the last few weeks. Irritated at people much sooner than I usually am. Snapping at Jon. Sighing loudly as I wait for the person ahead of me at the grocery to load their items on the cart. 

Why this irritability?

Because my babies have been away at camp. The earth is off its axis, or so it feels. I’m used to coming home and seeing their smiles, hearing their stories, watching them wrestle.  It has been non-stop camp time this July with Ri going to Eco Chic Girl Scout camp for 6 days, Mario going to Boy Scout camp for one week, and Ri going to Camp Akita for 5 days. 

Ri was less than thrilled with Eco Chic. She was in good spirits upon her return and didn’t complain about it until I started digging. Then she divulged that it was super dirty and they didn’t do much and they had way too much down time. The biggest issue was the cleanliness – and my girl is not one to really care to much about that so it must have been gross. But she did meet new friends and got girls’ phone numbers and emails. And she said there were some fun times during the trip like swimming and getting manicures. 


She also thought it was cool to stay in a yurt. I thought that was cool, too. I lost the mom of the year award by not writing her a letter during her stay. Everyone else got letters from their moms and family during the trip. I felt really bad about that one so I made sure I wrote her one for her Camp Akita stay (watch, no one will have letters on this camping trip and she will be embarrassed that I sent one – never fails). 

All the parents talk about how much their kids love Akita so I’m hopeful Ri comes back loving this experience. And she was placed in a cabin with seven of her other girlfriends so she was happy about that. Can you tell?!


Mario was not overly thrilled with day camp for Boy Scouts. None of his other scout friends went this year and Jon and I decided to drop him off and not stay with him this year (last year a parent had to be there). We knew it was going to be a crapshoot as to whether he’d take to it or not. He’s much more a homebody than Ri. And sure enough, he asked to stay home on Wednesday and Thursday rather than go to camp. We let him. But he did go on Friday to finish up the week. The good parents that we are did not realize that it was only a half day on Friday so I went to pick him up at noon (Jon had dropped him off and picked him up each day and Mario LOVED that). I searched for Mario when I arrived – not finding him amidst the mass of kids. But then he popped up before my eyes and grabbed my hand. 

“Mom, let’s go fishing!”

It was free time in the afternoon and that’s all he wanted to do. He caught two fish within ten minutes. As we were waiting on number two, I commented that I liked fishing because it was relaxing.

“Mom, it is not relaxing! You have to be pumped up and ready to pull that fish in if it gets your line. You gotta be alert. It is far from relaxing!”

Well, ok then. He told me.


Unfortunately, all the other kids wanted to fish, too so we had to give up our pole after 20 minutes. But Mario was ok with it (so happy he caught two right out of the gate). We tried archery but the line was long. So he introduced me to ga-ga ball. It’s like gladiators but with a rubber ball. These boys were brutal in the wooden ring trying to take each others’ legs out with the ball. Mario loved it.

So here I sit on a Friday night with my hubby. We had a delicious La Tavola dinner together and hit up Kroger’s for some groceries afterwards. Then we came home to an empty house. Should we play cards? Watch a movie? We are paralyzed with the strangeness of no kids in the house. 

But we still have the Rocco-man. 

Walk time.


He will be just fine

I’ve been beating myself up all week.

Right blow.
Left blow.

Mario experienced his first Boy Scout camp this week. It’s been a bit of a fiasco since we learned three days before camp that an adult needed to be with him at all times during the 8 am to 4 pm camp. Rack on another “crappy parent” notch to our belts since Jon and I could not take the entire week off to attend camp with him. That’s immediately how I looked at the situation. Jon is a little easier on us. His viewpoint is that we are working parents and we can’t do everything with our kids – we have a sitter that can do these things when we can’t. Real simple. I wish I could steal that gene that doesn’t harp on guilt.
But the problem arose that our sitter also has a two year old son who she tends to through the day along with Ri and Mario. Could we really expect her son to be good and stay by her side for 8 hours while she tended to Mario at camp? I spent the weekend trying to figure a way I could take off a day or two and Jon did the same. I also prepped our sitter about what may be in store for her and asked her to see if her parents could watch her son. I also convinced myself that Mario would probably dislike it any way and not want to go after Monday.

He loved it on Monday.

Jon was able to take him Monday morning, get him registered and acclimated and see him through some initial stations. Mario loved having him there. Our sitter arrived around 10:30 am and relieved him. Mario begged Jon to stay. He did not want our sitter’s son to stay (he’s been having a rough time with our sitter’s son all summer – it’s tough to go from being the youngest in the house to the middle child). But they survived until 4 pm. And he told me all the fun he had that night.
“But can you or dad stay all day tomorrow?”
Of course, the last two weeks have been reasonably calm and I could have gone in late to take Mario to camp. But this week was ridiculous with emergency matters left and right. I talked to Jon – who had to leave town at 5:30 pm Tuesday night – to see if he could take him again on Tuesday. He moved mountains but was able to do it. Mario was so happy. Jon stayed with him until lunch time. Our sitter relieved him at noon and that allowed her to only have to balance her son and Mario for four hours. A small victory. I had hoped to go out on Tuesday afternoon but could not break away from the chaos. It ate me up and pissed me off and I swore I’d get there Wednesday.
I pressured our sitter to find someone to watch her son on Wednesday so that she could be alone with Mario and give him complete attention. She was able to do so, which gave me a little sigh of relief. But I couldn’t make it over to the camp on Wednesday either due to the work madness. I didn’t get home until close to 11 pm that night and I stood at the kitchen counter eating ice cream from the package and staring off into space. I was tired and irritated and missing my kiddos. I walked upstairs to find Ri sprawled out on her bed like a teenager. I jumped on her and bear hugged her and kissed her cheeks and she laid as still as a sweet baby doll. I whispered a goodnight to Mario (who was staying with Patty) and went to bed.
Patty, aka our savior, took Mario to camp Thursday and Friday. What a godsend it was to me – to have peace of mind that he would be with her all day. She is close, if not at, the same level as Jon and I in Mario’s eyes. So he was in heaven at the thought of her attending.
But he did call me and ask if I could try to come so that I could watch him doing activities. That’s it, I thought, I gotta get up there if only for an hour. I struggled to get work done and got some help from my colleague in order to take off at 1 pm and head up to see Mario. I made sure to capture the look on his face as he walked up the path to greet me – pure joy and excitement. Damn, it feels good to be loved that intensely. I made it just in time to creek walk with him. Grandma joined, too. We learned about water creatures and clay rocks and crawfish. It was a wonderful time.




Mario held my hand and walked with me. He gave me kisses. He laughed. It was well worth the effort to get out there.
In the end, all my worry and angst was unnecessary. I couldn’t see that in the moment but after a Mama Mimi’s pizza and some UDF ice cream on Friday night, I could see that 15 years from now, whether our sitter went with him or I went with him, he would turn out fine.
I continue to face the fact that I cannot “have it all.” I cannot always be with the kids when I want. I can’t always produce the most stellar work. Life gets in the way. Emergencies arise. Appointments arise.

When I give myself the space to accept that, life looks pretty good.

I work in a fairly flexible job. Some weeks are insane and some are slow. I get a lot of kid time when weeks are slow. Unfortunately, Mario’s Boy Scout camp was during an insane one. But I tried my hardest to take care of Mario by getting my sitter to go without her son, by working with Jon to flex his schedule, by asking Patty to go a couple of days, and by finding the most opportune time to get out and see him myself.

I shouldn’t be beating myself up, I should be hugging myself.

I think in the end, it is the knowledge that you are loved that helps a kid blossom. Mario feels love from all directions – parents, sitters, grandparents. He will be just fine. And I will, too.