I was walking the other day and someone stopped me and asked what I was going to write about now that son #3 has graduated high school. Truth is, now that he is off to Israel, I won’t have the steady stream of boys coming in and out of my house, the endless linens that need to be changed, the replenishing of water bottles and various snack foods.
I won’t have any more stories about the adventure of only having boys. Wait, there will still be adventures, but they won’t be as ridiculous. Like the time when one of my sons, who will remain nameless for shidduch reasons, let his friend’s girlfriend sleep at our house even though I told him that she couldn’t stay over. (The friend also will remain nameless for shidduch reasons.)
Bright and early the next morning, I come downstairs to start preparing breakfast for my houseguests, and out of the corner of my eye, I see a girl run out of the room. I quickly go into the family room and I see her dart into the living room… Needless to say, I totally lost it, and his friends were so scared of me that they brought me flowers to try to make it better. (I might have just combined two stories, but it has been a long week.)
Anyway, I am still very grateful and surprised that people read and enjoy my column, so I will try to keep up the stories, the observations, and the chuckles.
Here we go.
Packing for camp.
I look back to the first summer when the boys went to sleep-away camp. The list of items comes in the mail a good three weeks before the departure date and it becomes the most looked-at piece of paper in the house. Inevitably, it gets misplaced, and you end up calling someone for a copy, but I digress. I always questioned some items, both the quantity and the actual item itself. Who packs actual rain boots for camp? I could see a girl bringing them — you know, cute ones, with hearts or polka dots on them. A total fashion statement. The boots probably complement the coat, but boys? Rain boots? Seriously? I would consider myself lucky if I knew that my boys definitely would wear a rain coat in inclement weather. Rain boots are an entirely different animal.
And the quantity of socks and underwear. What formula do they use for that? Does the camp director leave his child home alone for a few weeks, come back, see how many pairs of socks and underwear are in the laundry, I mean on the floor, and then multiply it by 20? Some people say that there are enough of each to make it through two weeks without doing laundry. Is that because they only do laundry every two weeks?
And labeling everything. I still remember asking my sister-in-law where to get iron-on labels for the clothes. It came in a roll of like five thousand Ganchrows. That first year I was ironing them on everything I could get my hands on, because my boys weren’t going to lose one item of clothing. (They actually did not lose one item, they lost several.) When I went to sleep-away camp, and I still shudder at the thought of that very horrible month in August of 1984, my mother sewed labels on everything. I guess iron-on technology was not yet available.
So every year, around the same time, I would go down to the laundry room and find the mesh bags, one for socks and one for boxers. I would find all the pillowcases, all the sheets, the three comforters, a sleeping bag, pillows, shower caddy, etc. etc. etc. As the summers went on, one son went to Israel, one son was a counselor, then a division head, then some of them were no longer going to camp, and now we are at the summer of 2019.
Is it different sending only one son to camp as a counselor? Yes. Why? Well, gone is the roll of iron-on labels. (I actually have no idea where it is.) if he wants something labeled, I take a sharpie and write the letter “G” on it. Most of the mesh bags have disappeared, so underwear and boxers will go into one bag (I hope #3 can tell the difference between socks and boxers), and quite honestly and most important of all, I have absolutely no idea where the actual trunks are. It is quite possible that I will be sending all of his items up in garbage bags. It is also quite possible that I will pack myself into one of those garbage bags, because I am not ready to let him go.
But that is for another column.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is now sitting in traffic, coming home from a beautiful simcha in Long Island. She is secretly hoping that her car will turn into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and fly the rest of the way home.