Summer Camp

It was going to be the first week of summer, an easy breezy time where my soon-to-be-in-kindergarten daughter and I would hang out while my almost-4th grade son busied himself at the local park and rec summer camp.

We’d drop him off at camp, go have a leisurely breakfast, have some girlie time together at the lake, set up some girl’s only playdates. Do our nails, play dolls. Girl stuff.

Alas. Along came a change of plan. This morning when we dropped her brother off she decided that she, too, wanted in on the summer camp scene.

Huh? But what about our girlie time?

I know. You are probably like: What are you mad? She wants to go! Alone time for you! Wahoo!

And half of me is jumping up and down that I have some time without my five-year-old appendage sweating on me during this summery heat. But the other half just got hit with a big fat reality check right in the head.

This will be my life when she goes to kindergarten in just a few short weeks.

Both kids will be gone and I will be flying solo. After almost 10 years with someone here to occupy my day, come 9 1/2 weeks or so, I’ll be alone. All day.


So, after my morning that consisted of the following: drop campers off, got back to the office to pay the extra $50 bucks in a late fee (I know, I know), come home, throw my daughter’s lunch together, bring it to the camp, walk the dog at the park with my husband, brew more coffee, check email again, throw some laundry in, try to get some ideas for the job I am getting paid to do, have a conversation with my sister that I dragged out longer so I would to have something to occupy myself.

After all this, I realized something sad.

Without my kids around I am a lonely soul with nothing to do.

Now my husband might argue that there is plenty to do around the house. He might reiterate that dust bunnies in the corner are not considered knick knacks. That finger prints on the bathroom mirror do not match the tile. That the vacuum that sits in the closet could use a friend, too.

He’ll probably say that I should be able to occupy my time for a few hours without the kids, and aren’t those the same kids at whom I was just yesterday screaming at to go and leave me be for five minutes?

Yes, that would be a good argument.

But it is quiet around here.

I realize that this quiet is short-lived as their week of camp will be over on Friday. And then I will be back where I was last week — incredulous that they can not find a single thing to do once I shut off the tv. That I have to say more than 10 times “For God’s sake it’s summer and go play!” And it was only the first day of summer vacation.

I know, you are probably thinking I can’t make up my mind. Go! No stay! No go! Wait.. come back!

*warning — I am about to go off on a crazy tangent and not make much sense. But since it’s my blog, I can do that, right?

I think as their mom, I push them just far enough away so that they can make their own decisions and live their lives. But I want them where I can still reach them. Where I can still reach out and grab them in for a hug. Even my nine-year old who is as tall as me and going off to college in nine short years. I still want him close — able to make his own decisions and be his own person, but still close. So I can see what a wonderful young man he is becoming.

And my almost kindergartener, I want this once shy girl to go be that outgoing girl she has become. To enjoy summer camp, even though none of her friends are even there, because she said she wanted to go. Because it was her decision she made by herself. But I want her to come home and say she missed me dreadfully and that she never wants to leave me again.

Except for tomorrow, because camp is really fun, mom. Ok?

Yeah, that is ok.

Just a new chapter in my life, I guess. Using baby steps to get there is all. Sigh.


Pride and Prudishness

I consider myself pretty lucky to be on the receiving end of bags of hand-me-down clothes for my daughter. One friend, who comes like a thief in the night, drops bags of clothes on my front porch. They appear there usually with out me knowing she’s even come. And when I say they are gently used, that is the understatement of the year. Some still have tags on them. And the ones that don’t are in such good condition that perhaps they’ve been worn once.

There are beautiful clothes in these bags. Gymboree outfits, Janie and Jack, Hannah Andersson, you name it. My little girl is a fashion plate and I can thank my friends for it.

Another good friend of mine also gives me her daughter’s gently used stuff. And I am convinced that I must have missed out on the laundry lesson they got. The whites are really white. The colors bright and nary a stain dons any of these items. Maybe I need to rethink my own way of doing laundry. I probably should sort the whites from the darks, right?

In any case, on one occasion my friend invited me over to go through some bags of clothes her daughter specifically picked out for my daughter. She told me to take what I wanted and the rest she would give to another friend whose little girl was about the same age.

Lots of adorable things. I picked through and took a pretty nice stack of items for my girl.

With the clothing strewn all over the floor, my friend picked up a pretty bathing suit and said that my daughter would love it.

I told her that yes, it was cute, adorable even, but my daughter would not be wearing it or any bikini until she is at least 12.

My friend looked at me as if I had six heads.

“Why?” she asked.

My reason is simple. I don’t believe a bikini belongs on my little girl. Tankini? Sure. But a two piece, midriff bearing, hardly covering anything bikini? Nope.

Not going there.

In the summer, we are at the beach. A lot. My mom still lives near the shore and we visit. Plus my own family usually takes to the beach for a summer vacation in Maine or Cape Cod.

And I spend a lot of time happily planted in my beach chair on the sand people-watching.

There are little girls, from age 10 all the way down to 1 year olds, who are wearing bikinis that barely cover them up. They are digging in the sand, playing in the waves, doing little girl things like that. And from my vantage point, wearing a bikini is just not conducive to that kind of adolescent behavior. The bikini top will eventually ride up and half of her little girl chest will be exposed until her mother comes and pulls it down for her.

(Note: I have also witnessed grown women wearing a bikini that could probably fit their toddler, but that is for another day.)

More than the fact that you just simply need more sunblock, my feeling is that a little girl, at least my little girl, needs to stay little for as long as possible. Because one day, earlier now than ever, you will wake up and your once little daughter will be sporting boobs and curves and be wearing low rider jeans and maybe even thong underwear.

They grow up too fast s’all I’m sayin’.

12? Maybe 13.

A bikini isn’t evil or anything, I realize it is just a fashion statement. (Unless of course you count that company that added extra padding to the top of their toddler bikinis. Can you say inappropriate? They should be so ashamed that they ever thought of that.)

And if you are comfortable with your little girl wearing one, then so she will.

But for my little girl, a one piece or tankini is going to be on her until she can afford to buy her own. And I for one am hoping that it is not until MUCH MUCH later than 12.

This one is just as cute as the bikini, no?

I wore what they called a “two piece” back in the day. I remember it well. It was a hand-me-down from my sister that I could NOT wait to get my hands on. It was red, had two triangles outlined in white on the top, and the bottom was red and white striped. It came up above my belly button and was clearly not a “bikini” in the true sense of the word. But it was the bomb.

But I had to wait until I was 10 before I could wear it. My mom was so behind the times, right? I waited for a very long time, following both of my sisters’ introduction into the world of bikinis, for my own. And once I started wearing them, well I decided they weren’t for me. I am and will continue to be a one-piece or tankini girl. My sisters not so much. They like a good bikini as much as the next person. Just not me.

So thinking back, I thought my mother was old-fashioned. But clearly we agree on this one thing. I may be old-fashioned like her, prudish even. But I am sticking to my guns on this one.

Yesterday I received a CWD Kids catalog in the mail and my daughter, fashionista that she is, immediately reached for it. She flipped through the pages while eating her lunch, eyes wide with hope of a new outfit.

She pointed to the cute clothes and gushed with delight. Then she pointed to a red-white-and-blue bikini clad toddler. “I want that one,” she said.

“Not until you are 12,” I replied.

“Why mommy?

“Because Mommy thinks that bathing suit is too big-girlish for you.”

I waited for the screaming that I was sure would follow.

But it didn’t.

“Okay,” she said and perused on. She pointed to the same red-white-and blue pattern in a one piece and said “How about this one?”

I just love her.

Perhaps she will always be this agreeable.

So… Am I too prudish or on the money? I’d love to know what you all think.

I’m Old Enough Now

Today, we were running late. Again.

The 8:30 start comes fast in the morning and we are perennial late-comers to my daughter’s preschool. Her brother’s bus comes at 8:40 so we usually say goodbye through my rolled down window as I zoom down the street to her school hoping to not be more than 10 minutes late.

Since my husband works most days from here, after us girls head out, he and my son have some good old-fashioned male bonding time in the driveway until that big yellow bus comes and takes him to off to his school, also just a few minutes down the street.

But this morning, my husband’s conference call ran over and my son really wanted to take the bus. “Please mom?” His very large blue eyes and almost 9-year-old face pleaded with me.

With a very large gulp, I left him in the driveway alone. I told him not to talk to strangers and please wave to me if you see my car and then I pulled away and drove my daughter to school.  I realize he would literally only be in the driveway by himself for about 3 minutes before his bus came to get him. And maybe his dad would be able to get there before then. But I was still very apprehensive and drove silently down my street with a lot of anxiety.

I quickly dropped my daughter off, got back in my car and was about to go across the street to his school and wait for his bus to make damn sure he got off. Then I thought, what if he sees me and gets embarrassed? What if he is mad and thinks I won’t let him grow up? (Which I certainly don’t want too, but that’s not the point.)

So I sat at an intersection where I knew his bus would pass. I just needed to know. As it passed by, I saw the back of his  head. He was busy talking with friends, probably secretly screaming with excitement that he is a big kid now and waited for the bus without a grownup. 

Thank goodness.

I knew he was safe. All grown up and safe.

When I got home, I found my husband in the kitchen making another pot of coffee. I asked if he got out to the bus in time. He did, he said, but our son told him to go back in with: “Mommy said it’s okay for me to wait for the bus by myself. I am old enough now.”

The lump came into my throat and my eyes welled up.

I do know he is old enough now. But I don’t like it. Not one single bit.

Today it’s the bus stop. Tomorrow he’ll be off to college.

I realize that at some point I will have to let go. Just as I am sure my own mother had to let go of me.

But he’s my little boy.

The same little boy who made me cry the day he was born because I took one look at him and realized I was a goner. I was the mother of a son. A beautiful baby boy who would bring me joy and make me tear out my hair at the same time. The boy who would make me laugh one minute and make my head spin around with frustration the next. This boy would bring tears to my eyes and swell my heart to bursting.

This giant replica of his father, with his too big feet, long gangly arms, a beautiful and mischeivous smile, easy-going spirit. He is growing up so fast. Time is flying by.

So today I won’t tell him I secretly spied on his bus ride. I will let him have that feeling of freedom. That feeling that he can do more by himself without his parents hovering.

But I can’t promise I won’t spy on him again. It’s a scary world and he’s still just a boy. He can wait for the bus “alone” though only if his parents are looking out the window making sure all is clear. We will let him venture out a little farther each day.

Just a little.