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May 20 2013

When My Kids are Gone, I Don’t Miss Them

By at 2:50 pm

woman relaxing on couch aloneOnce, when my husband and I managed to escape for some grown up time after leaving our three kids with my parents, my husband realized that he’d left his cell phone at home. We decided not to go back for it since, as my husband noted, “If an emergency comes up that your dad can’t handle, then we’re %^&* out of luck, anyway.” (My father, as I’ve written earlier, has a home remedy for every occasion.) Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 11 2013

The Difference Between Camp People & Non-Camp People

By at 9:53 am

happy family on the beachThere are two kinds of people in the world: Camp People, and Non-Camp People.

In his newest book, The Secrets of Happy Families, author Bruce Feiler definitely comes across as a Camp Person.

In the pages of The Secrets of Happy Families, Feiler approaches his research and fieldwork with all the optimism and resourcefulness of a senior counselor. He reaches out to experts in various fields in a Freakonomics-esque attempt to debunk conventional wisdom about what makes a functional family, and challenge some widely held beliefs about mundane practices such as the family meal, sex talks, conflict resolution, and allowance, while sharing his candid personal parenting victories and foibles and using lots of Camp People tactics throughout. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 12 2013

My Kids are Going to Sleepaway Camp This Summer But I Already Miss Them

By at 12:14 pm
empty boys room

Not a fan of empty rooms.

Well, it’s done: the boys are going to Jewish sleepaway camp this summer. It’s a few months away, but already, I’m a little teary. I’m pretty sure I will miss them more than they will miss me.

It’s not because I am unmissable. I mean, look at me: I am a bundle of fun. While I am sure the boys will relish not brushing their hair or teeth for three weeks, perhaps every so often they will think of me fondly in passing. Like when they look down at the crap around their bunk and think, “Boy, look at my crumpled up clothes–no one can fold them like Mom,” or “Wow, Mom would NEVER let us leave the room like this at home.” And they will certainly think of me for at least five seconds when they find the pre-addressed and stamped postcards home at the bottom of their luggage at the end of the summer and say, “Oops.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 23 2012

My Kids Were Away at Camp & I Didn’t Miss Them

By at 2:40 pm

pick-up day at summer campThe sign-off at the bottom of my letter was a familiar one:

Miss you! xxoo

Love, Mom

It was how I finished every bunk note I sent to my two sons, Noah, 14, and Chase, 12, at sleep away camp this summer. But when I went to press SEND on the last letter of the year, a nagging feeling came over me as I realized that this was just the fourth missive I had written to them in as many weeks. And it had been days since I had scoured the camp website to catch a photo of my precious punims. Suddenly the unthinkable reality was all too clear. I was lying. I did not, in fact, miss my children. At all.

What kind of Jewish mother am I??? Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 20 2012

Sending My Son to Russian Jewish Teen Camp

By at 11:11 am

camp boatsSo, remember when I said that this summer my kids were doing… nothing?

I tried to stick to the plan, I really did. But then, I found out about this free dance camp for my 8-year-old son. (And if there is one thing I love more than making life easy for myself it’s things that are free .

And then, thanks to the articles I’ve written here on Kveller about my Soviet Jewish background, I was contacted by the Marks JCH of Bensonhurst asking if I might be interested in sending my oldest to Camp B’Yachad, a 12-day overnight program happening this August 22 to September 2, specifically for teens from Russian-Jewish families. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 6 2012

To Jew Camp or Not to Jew Camp

By at 11:20 am

dock rowboat“Is this going to be our first fight?” my husband said to me at our friend’s Shabbat table. He said it jokingly–I mean, obviously, we NEVER fight because we are PERFECT–but it did make me think. It might be our “first fight,” after all. And who would suspect the topic of our first fight would be whether to send the kids to Jew camp or not to Jew camp?

Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 2 2012

This Summer, My Kids Are Doing… Nothing

By at 10:20 am

kids playing in summer“And what are your kids doing for the summer?” smiling friends and strangers alike ask regarding my three children, ages Just-Turned-13, Almost-9, and 5.

The smiles fade a bit, to be replaced by a somewhat puzzled expression when I proudly, answer, “Nothing!”

Nothing? Nothing?

In New York City, home of IQ testing for 4-year-olds, enrichment classes in subjects ranging from Mandarin to Art Appreciation to My First Splitting of the Atom, and multiple websites to help keep track of Junior’s incredibly busy schedule, nothing is somewhat of a capital offense (if not outright child-abuse). Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 7 2011

The Informative Sticker

By at 8:32 am

If you have a young child–let’s say 3 or 4 years old–attending a day camp program (I use “day camp” in the loosest sense of the word, as “camp” for kids this age can be as little as two hours a day), you are familiar with what I like to call The Informative Sticker.

The Informative Sticker is slapped on your kid’s back at the end of the day under the (correct) assumption that the kid doesn’t have either the capacity or inclination to really fill you in on the machinations of his day, and therefore needs a prompt of sorts. Let’s not forget the twin assumption that a kid would peel a sticker off his or her chest in the time it takes you to find their shoes, so hence the dorsal location for said sticker. So the counselors write something up about the kid’s day and slap it on the kid’s back–therefore, the kid doesn’t take it off, and you get to have a clue of what goes on in your absence.

The stickers are adorable. They say sweet things like, “I had a great time at arts and crafts–I made a teepee out of popsicle sticks!” or “Ask me about my sandcastle in the sandbox I made with Tyler and Jordan!” The stickers are meant to provide the twin reassurances that a) the counselors have actually observed what your child was doing in the course of the day, and b) your money is well-spent, because your kid is having fun, as can be illustrated by concrete examples of said fun.

But what if The Informative Sticker erred more on the side of candor, or mystery, or if the counselors just decided to screw with you? Here’s what might ensue:

“Ask me why I feel it’s necessary to pick my nose constantly and wipe it on my counselor’s shirt all goddamn day!”

“I love to gobble glue!”

“I had fun sticking popsicle sticks into various orifices of the classroom hamster today–maybe when I grow up, I’ll be a gynecologist!”

“I pooped seven times today, and only three were in my pants, which is a total improvement from yesterday!”

“Ask me why my counselors have no idea whatsoever what I did today, and in fact didn’t even think I came to camp until they spotted me as they were handing out these stupid stickers!”

“I laughed so much when I was stabbing a dolly with a stick over and over again during playtime!”

“Ask me about how I pretended a block was a cellphone, and referred to someone with your husband’s first name as a ‘womanizing shithead’!”

I think there’s a lot of potential here. And just think of what fun there could be if someone were to put the Informative Sticker on some husbands’ backs as well!

“Ask me if I ogled that 25 year old woman’s butt in the gym today during my workout!”

Jun 27 2011

First Day of Camp, No Looking Back

By at 12:00 pm

“Let’s go, let’s go!” My 6-year-old son is champing at the proverbial bit in the front hallway, doing that dance from foot to foot. The dance makes me wonder aloud if he has to pee.

“I don’t have to pee! I have to go to camp!!” he says.

Um, yes, I understand – the kid is excited. I got the message when he came into my room fully dressed at 5:30 am, in blatant contravention of the “don’t go into Mommy’s room till 7” rule, saying, “What time does the bus come again?”

My boys go to day camp under an hour away from the house – this will be my 7-year-old’s third summer, and my 6-year-old’s second. They adore it. They swim, do arts and crafts, play various sports, and sweat a lot. They come home stinky, their hair utterly disheveled, with the wildly happy eyes of kids who have been outside all day. They eat their dinner, shower and sometimes fall asleep in the middle of their bedtime stories because of all the activity.

“Let’s go, let’s go!” the older one says, picking up his bag full of swimsuits, towels, sunscreen and everything else requested of us parents to pack for the first day.

“The bus isn’t coming for another 10 minutes at least,” I tell them.

“So let’s wait outside!” they say together.

We sit on the front step. They stand up each time they hear a car. Or a squirrel, for that matter. Or a bird. Read the rest of this entry →


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