It was the night before camp started and I heard: “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO CAMP!”
This was coming from my 9-year-old daughter, and I had been listening to those seven words for last six months, ever since I broached the topic, back when the camp brochures started to come in.
And those brochures? To me they are like luxury travel offerings.
“Play tennis, golf, and swim all day!”
“Learn how to paint and sculpt on our farm where you will also get to play with baby animals!”
“Try your hand at canoeing and sailing, and then spend the afternoon at the beach learning about sea creatures!”
I had two immediate thoughts: I want to go, and who are these children? What have I done?
These camps were not sleep-away camps. They are nice little day camps with a few of their friends in them. What could be so terrible about camp?
We sat down and tried to pin down my daughter’s “strong feelings” about not wanting to go to camp. Could she tell me why she felt that way? Was she scared of something?
There was a lot coming out of her mouth, but not much of it made sense.
“I want just want to relax.” “I work so hard at school, I just want to chill out.” Chill out = computer time -- of course.
Chill out = brain dead.
There was no reasoning or future to this discussion. I was the mom and I was in charge. But six months is a long time.
For six long months I was under attack, and my enemies were fierce. My daughter had pulled her little brother into the war. They hurled comments like cannonballs. They hit randomly, usually while I was doing something for them, like driving them around, making them dinner, going through their out-grown clothes and providing ones that fit, feeding dogs they enjoyed playing with, doing the laundry that they had dripped chocolate on, or had put grass stains on while playing.
Their little arrows were always launched at times when my focus was off, and my attempts to stop the attack weren’t working. I was loosing blood, they knew it, and they stayed firm.
The night before camp started we went to a picnic where my daughter was playing on a jungle gym. She fell and landed strangely on her right hand. We iced it, but two of her fingers were a little puffy. Crying, she asked to have them wrapped.
I thought to myself: How is she going to play tennis and golf with sprained fingers? Maybe she really shouldn’t go to camp. I mean, I work from home. It is possible… I mentioned this to my husband.
“Are you crazy? She is going to camp! I don’t care if her fingers hurt! I played football every day with sprained finger! She is going to camp!”
It was the most romantic thing he had said to me in a long time.
The morning of camp arrived and my husband looked at me and said: “You are Terminator Mom. Go out there ready for battle.”
And I did.
The day had come, and I knew that finally I would win the battle.
My opponents were still fierce. “You never let me do what I want to do!” “It’s not fair!” “I wish I lived in another family!”
But when the cannons, arrows, and shot put were thrown, they bounced right off.
I delivered breakfast. I handed both children their bags filled with a towel, swimsuit, goggles, sun block and a tennis racquet, and I drove them safely to camp.
It was a long six months, but I had finally done it. They were at camp.
And, of course, you know exactly what happened that night, right? My daughter loved camp. I mean, why wouldn’t she?
Jennifer Quasha is a writer and most recently the co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Canine Companions" and "Chicken Soup of the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Feline Family Members." Check out her website at www.jenniferquasha.com.