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Why I Don’t Want to See Photos from My Kids’ Summer Camps Anymore

jewish summer camps in detroit

I’ve turned a corner: I’m no longer such a big fan of the photos from overnight camp.

I didn’t formally sit down and decide that I would no longer be the “refresh refresh” mom of years back. A few things happened to make me step away from the computer and into my life.

First, I went on a romantic trip with my husband, which was pretty amazing. Everything we looked at was Instagram-worthy. Flowers draped every windowsill. Breakfast was the only meal not accompanied by alcohol, and they made up for that with freshly baked bread and chocolate. Every meal was an ungodly level of deliciousness. Why on earth would I want to be hitting “refresh refresh” on my phone when I could be eating, drinking, seeing a beautiful place, or having sex? (Just being honest.)

Then I came back and got stoned. Kidney stoned, that is (less fun). I was in so much pain that I was alternating puking in random vases around the house (pretty sure I cleaned them out) with lying on the couch screaming into a pillow. The level of pain is comparable to childbirth, although with a much less photogenic result. I thought all my pain meant that I was passing the stone. It turned out it was way too big to pass, and I had to have surgery for the first time in my life.

In both health and sickness over those two weeks, I didn’t really check the camp photos at all. Sure, I wrote emails and letters, but no photos. I realized this after the fact, when someone on Facebook mentioned that they were scrolling through the camp photos daily. That had certainly been my intention when summer began—I do love these kids, after all. However, I had basically forgotten these photo options existed.

Because when you are either wandering through villages in Tuscany (I know, I know!) or stretched out on an operating table, you’re not hitting “refresh refresh.” In both situations, you are completely and wholly present in the place where you are. In one situation, you are a little buzzed on limoncello, appreciating the wind in your hair and exchanging uninterrupted sentences with your husband.

In the other, you are wondering if you are going to be the freak anesthesia accident and who on Earth is going to get your kids dressed for your funeral without you. And when kids are at camp, they are completely submerged in the moment, too. And that’s great! And maybe it was a good thing, to unintentionally let them do that without me peering in on them.

After I realized I hadn’t checked the photos in a while, I felt…nothing. I had no desire to go through and check back over the ground I hadn’t covered. Maybe when my kids are all home at the end of the summer, we’ll go through all the online photos. Then they can tell me all about who everyone is in the pictures, if they were friends, and what they liked and didn’t about the summer. That would be nice.

And even more importantly, maybe it’s best that I don’t know everything about what’s going on this summer in “real time.” Maybe it’s best that I don’t have the opportunity to see a photo and wonder why my kid’s face is blue and call the camp (hypothetically, of course).

If you love someone, set them free. Maybe that goes for me, too.


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