Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Camp Fuck Up
So my two eldest children, Hallie and Mills, are going to camp this summer with a church. It is called Camp Akita, and they have varying programs for the children, depending on their grade level.
Hallie went for three days this year, and it is the first time she has been away to that camp for longer than a night. I basically had her and her friend pack her, when she had a playdate over, and gave her the list, because I was running around with my head cut off, as usual, and I needed to delegate. When I finally got around to looking in Hallie's duffle bag, she had about 50 stuffed animals, some CD's which she would not be allowed to play, nor would there be any device to play them on, and the bottoms of a bikini bathing suit.
Needless to say, I packed her all up, according to the list, and at 1 o'clock in the morning, she was ready for camp. My best friend, Alissa, calls Hallie, "Garcia" because she looks like she has been following The Dead all summer and selling grilled cheese sandwiches. I got Hallie up early in the morning, had her bathe, clipped her nails, put her hair in a pony, and fed her a good breakfast and lunch. I then took all three children to Larson's toy store to get her something to do on the bus, and because I somehow signed up for the "package deal" somewhere when I became a parent of three, I had to buy them all something. We raced out of Larson's and pulled into the Church with a minute to spare.
I was congratulating myself and pumping my fist in the air, when I noticed that there were only landscapers and their vehicles clustered in the parking lot. No buses, no overly polite teens with Camp Counselor Shirts on...NADA. Something was very wrong. It is like a joke I love to tell where an Asian couple has a baby that is clearly African American. The husband suggests to the wife that they name it "Some Din Wong" Well, some din was vewy wong, here, but I was trying to keep my cool because I have found in these situations where I fuck up royally that I should just act natural, as if I planned the whole thing, and then the kids won't freak out.
So, even though I had said things like, "Aren't you so excited for camp?" and "Do you think you'll go down the bubble slide as soon as you get there?" I quietly got on my "stupid phone" which is an old Blackburry that is like 2G and discovered that camp drop off was the following day. Niiiicccceeee. I make a quick U Turn and asked Hallie where her "dream place" to eat lunch would be and she responded just as I knew she would, "Noodles and Company" and we laughed and shrugged it off and made an effort by saying things like, "Well, at least we're ready!" and other stupid stuff you might say when you arrive at the airport to find that your flight has been cancelled.
I tell myself that I am teaching my children to "just roll with it" but secretly I know that they KNOW that I am a huge fuck up.
Case in point, it is Mills' turn to go to camp. I actually double check my stupid phone to make sure of the dates. I didn't understand where there was a three day span for her camp, when it was just one night, but then I somehow deduced that there were two sessions.
In my defense, I had just come off a 7 day extravaganza where my best friend and I took our total of 6 girls, ages 4 - 11 to the lake and I was exhausted. I had 24 hours to regroup and this is the sort of thing that happens when you are suffering from exhaustion. That is my story and I am sticking to it.
I digress. Mills is all packed up. Hallie helped her pack and then I edited and repacked her when they went to bed, again. I even packed two empty wine bottles when they only asked for one glass vase to make a craft with, because I wanted to give the impression that I am SuperMom and I imagined Mills handing one of her Two Buck Chuck wine bottles to a "less fortunate" camper when HER irresponsible Mom forgot hers. I was ON IT, Man, and I told all of my children this, as we are pulling up to the church again.
The Moms are walking out without their kids and their camp t-shirts, and I instinctively knew that I had screwed something up again. Luckily, I met my friend, Trish, outside, before I could humiliate my daughter in front of the staff, and she informed me that Mills and her son were enrolled in day camp for the next two days and on the third day they would spend all day at Camp Akita and then come home.
I want you to imagine the visual of us rolling her suitcase up to the curb and Hallie is holding Mills'
pillow, and Eva has Mills' backpack on, and I am saying, "I guess the buses aren't here yet." when my friend Trish stops me and establishes what a fool I am in front of my girls, AGAIN.
Now, don't get me wrong, Trish couldn't have been nicer. She told me some story of how she screwed up something to make me feel better, Johnny on the Spot. She is NOT one of those women who revel in other's misery. She's a gurls' gurl. She is totally cool and we are going to pool together tomorrow. I offerred to take her son after day camp and she was all "No thanks." Cause she KNOWS I will fuck something up and she imagines her son alone and crying and being comforted by the counselors that just wanna go home, and you know what? She is absolutely 100% right in her assumption.
So we wheel Mills' suitcase back to the car, while I look around to make sure no one is looking (and so later this blog is FRESH, natch) and I take her in and find her group, and then I tell my other kids to hang back while I take her out into the hall and she starts to well up and I am dying and she says, "I don't want you to leave."
"See," I say, looking for an out. "YOU ARE TOO YOUNG FOR OVERNIGHT CAMP! It is a good thing that you are just going to day camp or you would be MISERABLE."
Mills wipes both her eyes and gets that look of indignation on her face that I have seen a million times before and says, "Now can I get that turtle that you keep saying 'we'll see' about?".
"Yes, Mills. Yes you can." I hug her tightly and want to die. I would've bought her an endangered species from the Galapagos Islands on the Black Market at this point. Anything to absolve me of the guilt and shame I was feeling. Anything to make things right, again.
"So, when you say, 'We'll see,' you really mean that you are waiting to see if you screw something up and then you can make it all better?"
"Exactly." And I thought I just knew my girls better than they know themselves. I forgot that they also have MY number, and they are just waiting to pounce like three little tiny mama pumas when they smell vulnerability. "I have taught you well, my sweet," I say as I guide her back to her place in the group.
I get back in the car and I am all flustered and Hallie turns to me and says, "Wow, Mills looked really disappointed. Are you gonna get her that turtle now? Can I get something?"
"Can I get something, Mama?" Eva chimes in from her booster seat.
"Yes! You can all get something!" I yell a little too loudly, "Now, let's go mail those boots I sold on Ebay last May! I am feeling RESPONSIBLE today!"
Soooo, my advice to you today is that if you are EVER feeling like a Bad Mom, read this and any of my other blogs that represent what a j-hole I am, and you will immediately feel superior again.
I actually have friends that have bad Mom moments, and they call me up to draw upon my stories of forgetting birthday parties, yelling at their kids, or turning all of their clocks in the house forward in order to put their kids to bed early, or any of my other dysfunctional parenting skills (I like to refer to them as "tools"), and they always respond by saying, "Now I feel better. Thanks."
I have decided that this has become my role in life - to make everyone feel better about themselves, because I am such a huge MESS. I just pray that my kids are able to laugh about all of this... later on. At the very least, their therapists will be entertained.
Just take note that the friends that make you feel better about losing your cool (like Trish) are your REAL friends, and those that use it as an opportunity to pass judgement on you, are NOT. We Bad Moms have to stick together, or we will be targeted by Social Services. There is power in numbers, my friends.