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Parent Camp
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Parent Camp     538 Words

Summer’s almost here which means summer camp is right around the corner. If you’ve already signed up your kids for sleep-away camp, you’re ensured at least a week of independence, fun-filled, carefree days, pillow fights, wet towel snapping and a greater sense of independence. Now, let’s talk about what the KIDS get.

Our kids love camp. Everything about it. They’re just as excited to go as we are to see them off. In fact, their only request is that the car come to a complete stop when we drop them off at camp and that we try not to coat them with road dust when my husband and I squeal out of the parking lot.

For the kids, it’s a glorious opportunity to re-establish Cro-Magnon hygiene habits, play with ancient weaponry designed to poke one’s eye out, stay up late, tilt the nutrition pyramid on its axis and commune with a large and varied array of farm animals.

For my husband and me it’s a time to get closer, control the television remote and eat leisurely, adult meals not ordered from a clown’s face. Not to mention having the time to actually read the newspaper, find things in their right places and the ever popular "naked dancing" with the bedroom door open. It’s great preparation for the future "empty nest".

Be aware that the week will fly by. It will seem as if you’ve hardly had time to shower off the sweat from the naked dancing when it will be time to go back to camp to pick up the little house monkeys.

Be prepared not to recognize your children at first. A week’s worth of encrusted dirt can be great camouflage. You shouldn’t have to resort to fingerprint analysis, but it will be close.

Whatever you do, don’t open their suitcase until you get home. Once safely on your own property and, preferably, downwind of alert neighbors, remove the suitcase from the car and place it in a separate, roped off area. Unzip the bag and step back. Using salad tongs, sort clothes by categories including "May Be Salvageable", "Burn" and "Not Ours". If you’re lucky, your child will have swapped the shredded clothes you sent with him to camp for the much nicer clothes of his former bunkmates. We’ve gotten some mighty nice shirts in this deal. Friends of ours weren’t so lucky. Their daughter never opened her suitcase and simply stayed in the same clothes the entire week. I consoled her mother with the thought that at least she didn’t have a lot of laundry to do.

As you’re enjoying your first night back together as a family, kids hosed off and clean, toasting marshmallows over the fire of burning camp clothes, something else will strike you: Perhaps your kids have grown a bit taller or filled out a little. Their eyes may shine with excitement as they tell you about what they learned and accomplished. You may notice a new air of independence and self-confidence that was never there before.

And that’s when you and your husband will look at each other and silently mouth the words "next year, TWO weeks!"

2004 Nancy Franklin. All rights reserved