well, that was quick

by bam

just three minutes ago, i swear, it was me with my feets up, lemonade in hand. a whole long freeform summer swirling in my view finder.
that was then.
this is today:
lunch packed, check. camp form signed, ditto. emergency contact assigned, oops. (note to self: do that. let so-and-so know she’s on the line should the little one crack a bone while playing summer camp).
and it’s not yet 6 o’clock. in the morning, people!
oh my gracious goodness. that was quick, that week of summer. oh, we did it to the hilt. lemonade by the gallon. library books guzzled, too. one of us even took a stab at catching fireflies, that archetypal joy of summer.
but now it’s time for camp. dang. it is with no small degree of butterflies and dragging summer sandals that i, the mama, lead this march toward structured days and all-new counselors and whistles.
i am perhaps the least eager camper that there is. i, like throngs and throngs, long for days when summertime meant sliding out of bed, slurping cereal and being off for the day. through the sliding screen. into whatever the woods, the basement offered.
we might slide home for lunch, but better yet it was cold raw hotdogs eaten out of the fridge in martha hackney’s kitchen. everything tasted better at martha’s because we could get away with things at martha’s that we could not do at home.
we’d roll in, a little muddy, a little scratched-up from the woods, freckles popping like fireflies in the night on our sun-brushed little cheeks.
but not until my mama rang the dinner bell, and our day of fun need pause. long enough for chops and greens and starch, then back ’til dark for kick-the-can, ghosts in the graveyard, and all those summer games that pitted the big kids against the littles.
(and taught me lifelong lessons on how it is when you’re not cool, and the big boys down the block, the ones who ruled the street on souped-up sting-ray bikes, could make you feel like such a loser.)
my personal summer joyfest, summer after summer, was what might be called my cardboard box period. again, martha hackney in a co-starring role. we would take a box, me and martha dear, and we would spend every single day of a whole long summer, building, decorating, making homes for little dolls. i do not remember the dolls. but i do remember making teeny tiny tubes of toothpaste from rolled up bits of tinfoil.
even now, give me a box. give me cardboard and scissors and a pile of many fabric swatches and i am lost, would be lost, ’til i heard the dinner bell, and my mama calling round the bend and through the woods, for me to come home for something sensible, something other than the things we snuck out of martha hackney’s fridge.
it’s a different world now. it’s a world where if i kept my little one home from camp he would be whining all day long, because there is no one, far as the eye can see, for him to play with. and his mama spends three days a week chasing, typing stories.
i swear there’s something lost. and it pains me to say so, to know so.
all night last night, i had visions of just plain calling it quits, pulling the plug on summer camp, letting the little guy stay home, fend for his little self, backed up by his fine imagination.
but an imagination, at 5, can only go so long without a playmate. and thus, the trouble here.
so the lunch is packed, the suit and towel tucked in the backpack. and the sunscreen (phew, i remembered) is at the ready. we’ll be out the door by half past eight, and driving to the other side of town, a town away, a leafy lovely town where we hardly ever go. we know no one. it will all be new.
oh, boy, how fun. God help me as he clings on tight. God help me if he cries. the tears of summer should not be a boy, a mama, dragging heels to camp.

okay campers, line up here. weigh in on how you feel about the finest ways to spend your days in summer. the pros, the cons of all-day camp. i know at least one camp hold-out, who has all sorts of plans for how to while away the languid days. any other takers?

lazily, the lazy susan will get restocked later on today. i think. that’s the plan. but this is summer, so it’ll be whenever the day gives me a little breather. which, geez, might not be ’til late tonight. go summer….