When will she stop writing about her sons already? Enough!
Sorry, that won’t be the case this week. If a son gives me permission to write about him, there is no way that I won’t be following through with that. Enough is never enough — especially when it comes to my three sons. And for the record, when son #3 was born, I did start humming the theme song from the television show.
When people ask me what my kids are doing this summer, I reply, “One is learning, one is in camp, and one is learning in camp.” Yup, that is what they are doing. When they were younger, it tended to be more complicated. “For the first month, sons #1 and #2 are doing four weeks of day camp. Then one week of Mets camp (yes, there was such a thing), one week of robot-making camp (I am pretty sure that was a thing), one week of Slapshots (that still is a thing and son #1 is helping run it in August) and one week of mom shlepping everyone to the swim club even though the only reason they want to go is to get ice cream from the canteen.” All those summers of activities.
Living in this community has taught me that down time is the enemy, and you have to keep your kids occupied for every second of every day, and you have to have carpools arranged for these activities while these children are still in utero.
I had mentioned the swim club — is that still around? When we moved to Teaneck 21 years ago (how am I old enough to live somewhere for 21 years?!?!), the first thing one of our neighbors said to us was, “You need to put your name on the waiting list for the swim club.” And since we were totally clueless, we just listened to whatever anyone told us to do, and on the waiting list we went.
The swim club turned out to be an exercise in extreme patience and parenting. And when you have all boys and you are the only parent watching those boys, it is even trickier. “I am not changing in the girls bathroom,” they would scream, while every other mom is watching to see how you react to the temper tantrums that would ensue. When there are witnesses, you have to be on your best behavior. The bribing that needed to take place in order to get them to listen was beyond ridiculous. “If you go change, I will get you a treat from every Toys R Us in New Jersey. Just please go change!!!!!” The problem with that statement is 1. No way was there any follow through, and 2. No way was there any follow through. Bad mommy. Very, very bad.
One of the good things about having them so close in age was that they were all in the kiddie pool at the same time, so I never had to be in two places at once. And by the time they had graduated to the big pool, they were no longer interested in going to the swim club, so it didn’t matter.
Sending the boys off to sleepaway camp was very hard the first summer. I feel very fortunate that we were able to send them to camp because it is a luxury (for the parents), not a necessity. Though the reason why we sent them to a coed camp is because I was their only female role model and they had to see that there were normal females out there, and not every girl is nuts like their mother. (That plan backfired in many ways, but we won’t go into that now.)
Bringing them to the bus stop with their bags of hockey equipment and snacks, tears were shed, hugs were shared, we would stare longingly at the bus as it pulled out of the parking lot. One brother went, then two, and then all three were in camp at the same time. We drove them to the bus, they boarded the bus, and husband #1 and I looked at each other and we quoted Martin Luther King Jr, “Free at last, free at last, thank god almighty we are free at last!!!”
That first memorable summer, I spent the whole day by myself roaming the city and going to museums. I didn’t have to take anyone to the bathroom and I didn’t have to pack anyone snacks.
Fast forward to this summer. We brought son #3 to the bus because, as a counselor, he was helping supervise the kids on the bus to camp. I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want him to leave. I was a disaster. Ten summers of camp have flown by. You start out a mess their first summer and you end a mess their last summer. Hope you all have a wonderful summer with your kids or without your kids… I will be weeping.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck will be wandering the streets of Teaneck aimlessly this summer. Please feel free to say hello if you see her.