My Lil’ Camper

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By Andrea Goto

I have no luck with summer camps.  Growing up, I attended two.  The first was a “math camp” where the instructors tried (and failed) to make math fun by using it in game-like situations.  If you want to make something completely un-fun for a 10-year-old, just add math to the equation. It took years to recover from the fear of abandonment I harbored from my mother handing me over to the math magicians, who held me captive for what should’ve been the best days of my summer. 

The second was a volleyball camp I voluntarily attended when I was 16.  I stayed in a dorm 8 hours from my hometown, but begged my parents to camp nearby, just in case I needed them.  I did.  At my request, they showed up to cheer me on during every end-of-day scrimmage, and after the last spike, I fought the urge to leave with them.  See, with my parents, I knew what to expect.  I knew they had my best interests at heart.  I knew they weren’t going to assault me with arithmetic or chastise me from missing a block.

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The Endless Summer

What did I do with all that ample time on my hands during the summers of my youth?  I played with my sister.  We ate frozen pizzas covered with dried up cubes of pepperoni in the backyard under a blanket we fashioned into a fort.  We stood gigantic inner tubes on end and rode them like bucking broncos.  Mom filled a bucket with water and declared it our “pool.”  It wasn’t that Mom could afford not to work—she just couldn’t afford to pay for childcare or camp for two children. But Dad and Mom were forced to scrape by on minimum-wage jobs the summer the paper mill went on strike, and consequently it was the only summer I spend away from home.  A friend of my parents offered to watch my sister and me.  For two months she abused us emotionally and physically.  When the strike was over, I ran into my mom’s arms and didn’t leave her grasp until I moved away for college.  It would be years later before she understood why.

Projection Parenting

So when I asked my 6-year-old daughter if she wanted to go to camp this summer and she replied with a firm, “No,” I didn’t push it.  Her friends tried to convince her of the fun they were having swimming, rope climbing and horseback riding, but my daughter would have nothing to do with it.  And frankly, neither would I.  I believe those kids are having a grand time making lifelong friends and learning new skills.  I also believe that my child, like me, would be the kid looking longingly out the window for 6 hours, waiting for my car to pull up and whisk her back to the world that she feels most safe and comfortable in. 

Am I projecting some of my own fears and insecurities?  Probably.  Am I okay with that?  Absolutely.  She’s 6.

The Summertime Equation Solved

Luckily, my husband and I have flexible supervisors who allow us to arrange our work schedules so we can pass our daughter between us like a baton during these summer months.  And I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  We ride bikes.  We play tennis.  We upgraded from the bucket of my childhood and bought an inflatable pool.  One day, Ava’s friend came over to swim.  She took one look at the pool and said with marked disappointment, “I though you said you had a pool.”  Confused, Ava replied, “We do.”  (The same response I’d give my friends who questioned my swimming bucket.) 

And every night my daughter, sun kissed, exhausted and safe in my arms, asks how much longer before summer is over because she never wants it to end.  I couldn’t agree more.

If you’re lucky enough to have your school-age children breathing down your neck at 7:15 a.m. asking, “What’re we doing today?!”  Don’t waste a moment wishing for the speedy return of school.  Cherish these summer months together.  I guarantee they will.

Andrea Goto swore that she would not let her child watch SpongeBob, take ballet, or consume food with Red Dye #40. Of course, that all changed when her daughter was actually born. Five years later, Andrea blogs about her revised approach to childrearing, which she likes to call Real-World Parenting. Her “technique” is based on commonsense and topped with a big dose of humor. Andrea is a regular contributor to PaulaDeen.com.
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Paula Deen
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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm