In Real Life, this is crunch time. It’s the time of year where the kids are itching to get out of school, spring hockey has ended, summer sports are starting and my basement is the staging location for The Annual Camp Pack. It’s about this time of year when we are done with our pilgrimages to outlets and malls to make sure we have 7 (10) pairs of shorts and 10 (15) tees that fit (ok I like to be an early bird and I am known to overpack everyone), and the new stuff has been washed, labelled and put in piles to be packed. My kids are already annoyed with me because I leave them with the leftovers to wear for almost a month. The camp linens are in the bags and the miscellaneous items are strewn around waiting for battery checks, electrical checks and more. Life of a camp parent, when you know, you know.
But alas, this is not real life. It’s Covid Life. It’s Pandemic Life. It’s a life we as Xers, Yers, Millennials and then some, would never have imagined.
We sheltered at home as winter was wrapping up. We sheltered at home as the trees started to bud and we were able to take our Handmaid’s Tale style walks around the block. We mourned cancelled events, untimely deaths and personal contact. We celebrated front line workers and rallied to support our struggling communities. We zoomed, and Facetimed and sent articles and news reports to each other. Hopeful that perhaps the summer would bring us the relief we hoped for, but knew deep down, such a relief would likely not be in the cards. And by we, I mean the collective adults. The children on the other hand, tell a completely different story. A story that I lie in bed thinking about, wondering in 20 years from now, what it will look like. What will my 9 and 12 year old have to say about this blip in time.
But for my kids, their reactions have been not what I would have expected. Especially from my 12 year old. I have been so emotional about it. And while I know he is deeply disappointed he won't be spending seven weeks with his camp friends (who are completely different than his school friends), I know they basically expected it because we prepared them to. I am still waiting for the outward emotions however, but I think their little boy pre frontal cortexes are not developed enough to truly feel the emotion and realize the immediate rammifications.
It consumes me. In our life, sleepaway summer camp is a grand event that everyone in the house looks forward to. It’s a break in the year where everyone gets to forgo their responsibilities. The kids don’t have to answer to their nagging parents and get to spend their days and nights with friends. 24/7. The parents get the respite they so very badly need with no meals to plan, schedules to follow, or homework to be on top of. It’s a win-win.
It consumes me that my boys will not be sleeping in sandy beds or have smelly shoes. Instead they will remain status quo; late nights for the wrong reasons (gaming) and the comforts of home (a/c and comfortable mattresses). It consumes me that they won’t have that feeling of getting back to their stifling hot bunk and possibly have a water fight outside at rest hour while the girls are giggling in their own cabins braiding their hair and painting their nails. Instead they will remain status quo; Facetiming their friends or having a park meet up. It consumes me that there won’t be an All Day General Swim on a hot friday ending with their weekly Shabbat celebration surrounded by dozens of their peers all there for the same reason; to have fun, be together and make new memories.
Clearly you can tell I was a camp kid as well. Day camps, Sleepaway camps, Teen Trips- I was blessed with the whole shebang.
And from each and every one of those summers, I have clear memories. I remember taking the bus home from Champions day camp with my best friend Sarah falling asleep on my shoulder. I remember playing “Crack and Egg on Your Head’ while we waited to go in the indoor pool. I remember my first Color War (Alf v Spock) and my first visiting Day. I remember Drive In Movies at Camp Kennebec and middle of the night French Fry Parties. Being in the camp play and learning all the words to Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I remember my first camp kiss and my first summer in a tent at YCC. I remember every single detail about my last years as a senior camper, CIT and Staff at Camp Maromac. Every. Single. One. And in between that, the summer of grade 7, I had one summer where I came home from camp and stayed in the city for the second half and I don't remember one thing. Not One.
I mean, it’s not the end of the world. One summer out of a lifetime of summers. And to be honest, I lay awake one night days ago, piecing together the framework for this blog. During Covid, but before George Floyd. So during that sleepless night, a summer of an air conditioned home with an inground pool sounded like the worst thing for my kids. And a summer without respite from the grind sounded like the worst thing for us.
And then we had to figure out how to talk to them about the bigger stuff. Stuff that is always there, and being Jewish, we know its never going away. So the conversation quickly moves to why are we staying at home for 4 months, to why are policemen killing innocent people and why are other people stealing from more innocent people.
So here I am. At the end of this blog wondering what the point was in the first place. If you know me, or read my blogs or follow my Instagram Real Talks you know I always like to start off by saying when I share my thoughts that I am comparing apples to apples. I’m not comparing my privileged life to someone else’s insurmountable difficulties. The purpose of this blog was to entertain and reminisce with those who are in the same position as I am. But today, it of course feels less important than the bigger picture.
So while my children will not end Summer 2020 with great memories to last a lifetime, I will do my best to remind them of the wonderful life they live. I will not be sorry for my moments of misery and difficulty from my own personal perspective. Apples to Apples. I will not be sorry for mourning the loss of a summer that was supposed to be memorable. I will be grateful to be safe here at home, in my neighborhood, in my Country. I will remind my kids of this. I will remind myself of this.
But our kids have been at home with us for months. From the Apples to Apples perspective, this is a difficult feat. And to continue on for a minimum of three more months with unknowns behind it, I’m terrified. I'm scared for the mental health of our children, I’m scared for my own mental health and all the negative repercussions that go along with that. So if you see me with a friend, or another family, maybe at a lesser distance than you might be comfortable with, just remember that everyone has their own truths. Their own realities and their own maximum capacities. Summer 2020 will be one for the books, one way or the other.