I may have gone to one of my last “Summer Camp” shows tonight and I can’t help but, to be a little sad. Summer Camp in this context is a little misleading. There were no cottages, camp fires or cots at this camp. Depending on where you are, I have heard these programs called a number of things, Extended Day, After Care, Working Family programs, Beyond the Bell and my favorite, Hobby Hour. I have visions of Bob Villa and Tim Taylor instead of the usual college kid trying to get a jump on their fellow education majors. Whatever you call them, these programs are a modern answer to latch-key kids.
I wish you could have seen the show.
I was trying to smell the roses, I guess. So I spent some time watching the parents. First I looked for the parents who were traveling with us. A few of them seemed to be a little like me, maybe more alert. Some were still checking their email and producing the requisite golf clap at the end of each number. Like the rest of us, they were still in their scrubs, ties and greasy work uniforms. With the schedule busted due to the program, some were wondering what from the freezer could be possibly cooked and served in ten or fifteen minutes or if they could still mow the grass. Some were wondering if those pizza coupons were still in the car.
It seems like yesterday when my wife and I sat in the kindergarten auditorium.
I wish you could have been there that day. Our new principal, Dr. Morgan, apparently still feeling the sting of sending his youngest son to college, told us something I didn’t really understand at the time. He said to have fun, smell the roses and above all, DON’T BLINK. He went on to say these would be the fastest passing thirteen years of our lives.
With most of my daughter’s Extended Day Summer Camps in the rear view mirror I have some advice for you.
Never miss an opportunity to see the joy. I wish you could have seen the faces of the children whose parents were checking their email. The highlight of a second graders month is apparently being able to lip-sink a Taylor Swift song in front of all the camp parents. Even the jaded, unamused and sophisticated kids my daughter’s age had a hard time containing the smile from time to time. Look for the joy in the real teachers. You can tell a good teacher a hundred miles away. They smile, tap their feet and laugh frequently. They can’t help themselves. They love and dote on THEIR kids.
But, there is one of those college kids that I am really sorry you missed.
This was the one just off stage showing the first graders the dance moves. Her face, well, it was raw joy. It betrayed more than I ever could on this written page. It was full of hope, promise and the realization of an avocation well selected. Her hair bounced and she displayed a kind of unrelenting smile that made MY face hurt. After the number was over and her kids were getting their requisite golf-clap, she hugged them all. Her affection held up the show because her kids were taking too long to get off the stage. It may have bugged everyone who worried about dinner, schedules, weed-eater string, cleaning gutters, email, a raise… It didn’t bug me at all.