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Hurrah! for a well-earned week

In homeschooling circles, what I’m about to confess is something on a par with admitting that you are some sort of non-violent felon. Not as bad as a murderer, though perhaps I’d be put in a category with embezzling CEOs, crooked car mechanics, and guys that steal purses from old ladies.

OK, deep breath, here it goes: I confess that I don’t always want to be with my children.


Not my daughter’s camp, but I couldn’t resist including a photo of Icelandic ponies!

Phew, that was rough, but I’m glad I got it off my chest. When I walk into the homeschooling conference in a little over a week, the crowd may actually part so that no one has direct contact with me. It’s possible that I’ll be kicked off the board of the Discovery Learning Center and my children will be shunned at homeschool park days.

But at least I will feel unburdened. It’s just a risk I have to take.

It’s like this: I adore my kids. I think they’re really cool. In fact, like most parents, I think they’re cooler than any other kids, at least as far as my own personal definition of “cool” goes.

My kids have improved my life in many ways. They got me into thinking about parenting, then education, then homeschooling, then gifted children—in other words, pretty much everything I write about these days. They have made me laugh harder than any other person was ever able to.

They have also made me cry. Parenting is hard, and parenting children off the usual grid is even harder.

These days I don’t cry so much, but I do get frustrated. Days pile on days of aggravation and difficulty, and it can be hard to remember the time my kids made me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed before. I get grumpy. I say things I shouldn’t say. We do eventually kiss and make up, but life without a break from parenting is just not something that works for me.

I bow down and ask forgiveness of all of you who want to be with your children 24/7, but that’s not me. First off, I want my kids to go to bed so that their father and I can talk to each other. Yeah, it’s true, we might only talk about taxes or Star Trek The Next Generation, but we’re talking TO each other and not past, around, or in spite of any other being.

Secondly, though I love homeschooling my kids, I do want them to learn from other adults. I know that I can’t be their everything. I know that the thing that ends up inspiring them, exciting them to the point that they want to spend their life doing it, may be something that I know nothing about. Heck, it might not even be invented yet.

Finally, and here’s where I really get to the fine point, I love, love, love sleepaway camp. Sleepaway camp has not always been part of our summers. Our son is willing to go camping with other families, and does on occasion, but sleepaway camp is definitely not his thing. But last summer our daughter decided that she simply had to go to a sleepaway horse camp, and begged me to find one.

I’ll admit I was skeptical. First off, I was skeptical I could find one where she would do well, where I wouldn’t get that mid-week call, “So, about your daughter, she’s been having a hard week…” You know, the things professionals say instead of what they want to say, which is something like, “Save us from this kid!”

Secondly, I was skeptical that we could afford such a thing. Is it really worth that much to get rid of your kid for a week?

The answer is unequivocally YES on both counts. We found a camp that not only has wall-to-wall horse riding, but has counselors trained to work with kids with all sorts of special needs. Our daughter is fine there. She loves it, and they don’t have any problem with her eccentricities (or if they do, I don’t hear about it).

We have also found that it is worth the money, whether or not we have to mortgage the farm to get it. A week away from each other resets all of our engines. It gives her time to get away from the three Most Annoying People in the Universe. (Those are not just honorary titles—I have it on good authority that we really are the Most Annoying People in the Universe!) It gives us time to have conversations with our son that would annoy her to no end.

So in other words, a week to reset all our panic buttons is well worth the investment. It’s true, I miss her. I miss her cuddles, because despite sometimes having a prickly personality, she is The World’s Most Cuddly Person. (I am the official giver of that title.) I miss her commiseration when her brother and father go deep into geek talk at the dinner table. I miss her hurricane, the energy that moves through the house and upsets all our expectations.

But this is good for all of us. We all benefit from the downtime so that we can meet the challenge of the coming year with good cheer, remembering what we love about each other in the midst of everything that will try our patience and make us wonder how we can possibly go on.

So despite the risk to my homeschool reputation, here are my three hearty cheers for summer camp.

Hooray! Hooray! Hurrah for our well-earned week apart!

Posted in Parenting.

3 Responses

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  1. Lucinda @ Navigating By Joy says

    This made me giggle! And empathise. My sister-in-law just invited both my children to stay for a few days but I still don’t think my 8 year old son can handle it. My daughter’s been happily going on sleepovers and camps for years – missing the cats is about as homesick as she ever gets. But I’ve gently asked my 8 year old to wait til next year. I know one day he’ll be ready!

    Your daughter’s camp sounds so perfect, I’m so pleased you found it 🙂

    • Suki says

      I’m sure he’ll be ready one day, and then imagine: a house with no children. We don’t have that luxury yet! Good luck – Suki

Continuing the Discussion

  1. When little kids become big kids – Avant Parenting linked to this post on August 17, 2013

    […] I’m writing this, my daughter is off at another summer camp (see this piece, this one, and this one about why we love summer camp so much), and I actually don’t know […]

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