My kids came home from camp on Thursday. Each year that day has a certain rhythm to it. So I’d like to share that day with you: from silence to chaos and back again. Here goes.
6:20 am. Silence. The dog nestles up to me – for him, I’m just another warm body. “Honey, time to get up so we can leave at 7:15.” Still quiet…
6:30 am. Sniff, sniff: I smell nothing but broken plaster around the new windows in the kids’ rooms.
7:23 am. Leaving the house to pick up our camper. GPS says we’ll be there at about 9:18 am, 18 minutes after the gates open for final pickup.
8:00 am. Discussing with my wife how our kids feel that this is their worst day of the year, since they have to leave camp. We’re happy to have them home but I’m not sure I’d say this is our best day.
The kids’ best day is the day they go to camp. And that’s why that day is our worst day. Although after ten summers, we’re kind of used to it by now. Or numb – not sure which.
8:45 am. Debriefing with our contractor who’s just installed new windows. In the kids’ rooms. Maybe we should have waited. But he’ll have their rooms cleaned up before they get home.
8:50 am. Stuck behind another camp family that’s not as hurried as we are.
9:13 am. Other camp family is suddenly psyched to see their camper and speeds up — for the final mile.
9:16 am. We pull into camp and can’t believe how many parents are already there. I ask if parents get there at 8 am? Nope – they just come in quickly at 9 as planned. Note to new parents: when the camp says be there at 9, be there at 8:30 or 8:15. After ten years, I’ve finally figured this out.
9:17 am. We pick up our daughter’s and son’s duffle bags from the parking lot pickup pile, and can’t believe how much stuff we’ve piled into our minivan. Pretty sure there’s no more room. Say hello to our son the counselor, meet the GF, and go to round up our daughter from her bunk.
9:25 am. We’re excited to see our daughter. And our daughter, well she’s all business, thinking we need to carry her stuff to the car. Nice of her to leave it for us to take to the car, instead of sending it with her other belongings to the pickup piles in the parking lot. But that’s OK. Notwithstanding our being on a different continent, we’d hike to Siberia – and back – for her, so this’ll be a short trip. Doesn’t hurt that her bunk is closest to the parking lot. Yeah, I’d whine about it even if her bunk was in the parking lot, so don’t take me too seriously. It’s what we parents do.
By the way, our daughter has lost her voice and it kind of looks like someone let her loose in a beehive (bug bites), much like I had coming home from camp. By the look of the counselors and remaining campers, it seems they’ve all said everything they could say. Literally, nothing more to say to each other – they’re spent. No photo evidence allowed.
9:30 am. Carrying more belongings to the car; stopping to say hello to our friends. Some liquid spilling from some of the bottles and partly full cups.
9:55 am. On a normal camp day, my wife or I might be racing to finish the daily email. Not today. I have an empty felling, what with not needing to be clever or witty or gossipy or newsy today.
10:00 am. Picking up our son’s hanging clothes from his bunk. Carrying still more clothes to car. No way this will all fit! But it does. Car seems to be unevenly weighted on one side, and it’s not because of me this time. More hellos.
10:20 am. A few tears, final goodbyes, “What are you doing next year’s and…
10:40 am. Pulling out of the camp parking lot.
11:00 am. Quiet. Not too much you can say to a kid who’s just left some of her closest friends behind at camp. Even less when said kid stayed up all night.
11:50 am. Back at my office for the afternoon. Quiet.
12:15 pm. Wife and daughter pull into driveway. Guess who brings in most of the bags? Next year, we’re using a dump truck and dropping everything at the back of our driveway. Better yet, we’ll take the truck to the garbage dump and be done with it.
3:30 pm. SMS chatting with my son re. his plans for the day. Now that summer is almost over, it’s time to fire up my chatting skills. LOL. R U ready?
4:30 pm. Our son was a camp counselor so he had to stay late for clean up and banquet. Now he’s home.
4:33 pm. I suspect our son was glued to his computer by now.
5:00 pm. Hard to focus at work, knowing that my kids are home. Somehow, not so sure my kids feel the same way.
6:33 pm. Opening the front door into complete chaos – bags everywhere, can’t move through the hallway, having to skip and hop through the first floor. Wondering what has everyone been doing all day?
The good news someone really is happy to see me: my dog. I can tell because he’s wagging his tail every time I speak. Maybe he’s just hoping I’ll give him dinner. He follows me everywhere I go. Yep, he wants dinner.
6:37 pm. Upstairs, in kids’ computer room: 2 kids, heads buried in their computers. Far less interested in Dad than in Facebook, friends, etc. Lots of etc. Son planning his next cell phone purchase.
7:00 pm. Son and I go to bank so he can deposit his camp paycheck. He says he’s happy to have that money in his bank account. I tell him to spend it wisely so he can continue to have said money in his bank account. It’s his college spending money after all.
7:15 pm. Time to start dinner. Oddly, dinner has not made itself already. Must be because my wife got tied up.
7:30 pm. “OK, time to get these bags cleaned up!” Bags moving up and downstairs, everywhere. “You DON’T need to wash all of my clothes. I didn’t wear some of them and they’re clean.” Yes, as in “clean” with quotation marks. Seems to be a matter of opinion regarding what is clean and what isn’t. What do I know about clean clothes anyways?
7:45 pm. As toiletries make their way upstairs, new scents like my kids’ deodorants, begin to pervade the house.
8:00 pm. Yeah, it’s late but this is when we usually eat. Heck, this is an early dinner. And it’s our first family dinner since mid-June. Less than more ten days until our last family dinner for a while. Pleasant conversation. Some family members are more talkative than others who are still in shock from leaving camp. Cell phones allowed at table tonight so that children can re-immerse into their back-home world. Kids talk about how it’s different to be at home, away from the homogeneity of camp. Review of color war and how it worked out to have started it early this year.
8:30 pm. Everyone has to clean up dinner. “Come on, we just got home.” One kid helps, the other mysteriously floats away to another place. Wife has to do laundry. Just as dinner prep started, it’s left to me at the end. And I thought that if I made dinner I’d get out of cleaning. Silly me.
9:00 pm. Kids go to visit some friends, but the scent of the belongings hangs in the air. Suddenly, quiet again. Hopefully not for too long.
9:10 pm. Time to write a blog post describing how great it is to have my kids back home. Looking forward to a little more noise.