I thought signing my 3 year old son up for summer camp would be a good thing. My daughter always loved it and still does. She loves the prospect of doing endless crafts and playing games and seeing people other than her family every day. She loves packing her snack bag with whatever she wants (within reason) and opening it up in front of everyone at camp. She loves telling me about everything she did that day when I pick her up. She can’t wait to go back every day.
Everything I just wrote about?…My son HATES. Well, except the snack bag part. We took a trip to Target the other day specifically for him to pick out his very own snack bag. He picked out a cute little elephant one with a matching elephant icepack. He played with the ice pack and even let his sister borrow it after he punched her in the arm. He was happy.
He remained happy all the way from that moment until Tuesday morning at 8:55. Tuesday wasn’t the first day of camp, either…it was Day 2. Monday, he was ok. I think distraction played a big part…he walked right over to the head counselor and let her lead him into the room. They told me he cried a bit when they first got into the room, but he was fine soon after. When I went to pick him up Monday, I saw him before he saw me. He was a model camper! Running over to his spot on the rug and sitting down criss-cross applesauce. I went in and he ran to me…showing me the cool crown and sceptor he made. My little prince!
Tuesday morning I figured he’d be excited to go. Nope. Tuesday morning, he wanted nothing to do with it and started with the koala bear full body strangulation hug at 7AM. “Mommy, I don’t want to go to camp anymore. I miss you when I’m there.” My heart started yelling at me to tell him he didn’t have to go anymore and that we could spend the day hugging instead. But, I couldn’t breath, so I figured I’d better take him to camp so someone could pry him off me. Picking him up that day wasn’t as magical as the first day…he ran to me and said, “Let’s get outta here.”
Every day got progressively worse. 7AM strangulation hugs turned into 6:45, then 6:30…then by Thursday night he was already trying to get out of Friday. He had mastered his grip, too. You know that little bugger almost pulled my pants down right in front of all the camp counselors? The entire week he cried for me for at LEAST 15 minutes after I dropped him off. I know this, cuz like a jerk I stood outside the door (out of sight) until he stopped everyday. If there’s any advice I can give with this story, don’t do that!
When I went to pick him up on the last day, I peeked in the room. All the kids were sitting nicely on the rug listening to a cute little story. All smiles and happy. But, I couldn’t quite see my son. Maybe it was just the sun glare off the glass? No, it was because he wasn’t there. My sister-in-law (who came with me for moral support) then said, “Oh there he is…over there at the table.” The little guy had decided he had enough. I asked the head counselor how he did. You know it’s not good when a trained professional scrunches her face and says, “Well…..”
So now I have a week’s worth of crafts that the counselors made, because my son wanted nothing to do with making them. And I also have a slight tear in my heart for making him go through that. But I think it was good in a weird sort of way. Even though he didn’t like it, he completed it. And he made a couple little friends. And he learned how to play Duck Duck Goose. So that right there was worth it.