This summer marks a changing point in my household: this will be the first summer of not one, but two teenagers in the house. Which means several things. It means my chances of getting to take a shower at a reasonable hour have plummeted to nearly nil. (We only have one shower in our house, so I’d just like to apologize in advance to all the people who might be standing downwind of me this summer—especially if I happen to raise my arm to wave at you.) It also means my chances of getting a cup of coffee are pretty much nil, too, since it seems that in my house the birds and the bees talk should rather be called the birds and the bees and the beans talk: apparently the urge to consume mass quantities of caffeine appears at about the same time as all other biological urges.
But the thing that makes the biggest difference, at least as far as I am concerned, is the complete lack of a need for any kind of day camp. Well, at least on their part. I confess that I still need the daily respite that day camp provides quite a bit. In fact, if it were possible to enroll myself in a day camp, I would. (At one point in my life I thought that I had discovered the adult version of day camp, but then the bartender pointed out to me that day drinking was not the same thing as day camp at all. They also added in something about not having to go home but no longer being welcome to stay there.) And so it is that since The Man (and, depending on the bar, The Woman) says that I, myself, am no longer eligible for “day camp”, it looks like the only option available to me is still going to be sending my kids someplace instead. Even if technically they are too old for it.
In my defense there are a lot of great skills to be learned at a day camp. And I’m not just talking about how to make a lanyard key chain. (Although there is something undeniably badass about a well-made lanyard keychain.) No, I’m talking about the social skills that they only ever seem to learn when they get away from my house. Things like how to stand in line without punching the person in front of them repeatedly in the kidneys. Or how to wait their turn at the lunch (or lanyard) table. Or even (gasp!) how to say please and thank you.
But even without the added benefit of teaching my kids the social skills they failed to acquire at home, I think day camp serves a greater purpose for us all by encouraging families not to kill each over the summer. And I mean, less murder is generally considered a good thing, right?
I don’t know, maybe the murder thing is just a problem in my house. Maybe other families sail through the summer break like the Von Trapps, laughing and singing and hiking the whole time. Maybe. But I doubt it.
All I know is that the same house that is somehow spacious enough for four people during the school year becomes more claustrophobic than steerage class on the Titanic during summer break. And that the same people I can (generally) tolerate all year long somehow start moving their way up the “most endangered” list the further we get from the last day of school.
Maybe it’s not so much that the nature of their annoying habits change, but rather that their frequency does. After all, one crusty mac and cheese bowl in the couch cushions is annoying: six is practically an open and shut case for justifiable homicide.
Even the bartender agreed with me about that.