Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Why I Hate Summer

That's too harsh, of course.  I love summer: going to the beach, working in the garden, sunset at 8:30PM (instead of 3:30 PM that we get in December), Red Sox games on TV, bike riding, swimming, eating ice cream, outdoor movies, cooking on the grill, gin and tonics, the Waltham Fields CSA, our week at the Cape each year, road trips….

HOWEVER -- and there had to be a catch, of course -- camp drives me insane each and every year.

First is the Signing-up For the Camp.  We are so very fortunate here in Waltham to have a Parks and Rec department that puts together wonderful camps that the kids love and which is half or even a third of the cost of other camps in the area.  Prospect Hill and Kaleidoscope have saved our family gobs of money (compared to other camps that our kids attend).  And yet, EVEN if I am able to be on the computer at the exact time that the on-line enrollment begins, I am still scrambling to get both kids at the same camp during the same weeks.  When that happens (and it has happened), it is so much better than hitting the lottery that I just want to hug someone (and that doesn't happen often.  I'm not very huggy.)  This year, I was away for work and unable to get on the computer for on-line registration and then was unable, even, to stand in line at Old South at 7AM with le tout de Waltham for the in-person registration.  And so, I got one week at Prospect Hill (and was grateful for that.)

So, once I know which week or weeks my kids will be attending Waltham P&R camps, that leaves the rest of the summer to fill in.  We do spend one week each summer on the Cape, so there is the scrambling to fill in around that week.  The Boyz this year are also doing a week of Flag Football and two weeks of Basketball camp, in Belmont and in Newton, respectively.  Why not sports camps in Waltham?  Because of issue number two.

The SECOND issue is the TIME of the camps.  Many, many camps, including Waltham sports camps, end at 3PM.  Who gets done work at 3PM?  And even if work is done at 3, how does one get to the camp to collect the campers at the speed of light?  I am very, very lucky to do much of my work from home, and much of that by computer and by phone; I have become adept at doing conference calls in the car with earbuds and my kids silenced into submission with screens in the back seat or literally locked out of the house until the call is over.  Even my work, though, requires that I go out of town and then my husband, whose work is not particularly flexible, has to manage.  So, I spend the entire summer beginning work at 7AM and working until 4PM and then again in the evening and, when I am out of town, we are at the mercy of our neighbors and friends who can pick up the kids for us or my husband is forced to do the walk of shame, leaving his workplace early, with his head down, hoping no one notices.

As I mentioned, we are lucky to have flexibility in work hours.  Many of our friends are not so lucky and so end up spending obscene amounts of money on things known as 'pre-camp' and 'post-camp'.  It's not enough to charge $300 or more per week for a camp: if you need coverage during the actual hours that people actually work, it's going to cost another $100+ per week.  In fact, the COST is an issue in and of itself.  This summer is a short season, since the kids didn't get out of school until June 25th.  We have one vacation week at the end of July.  So that leaves us with eight weeks of camp.  As I said, getting into a Waltham P&R camp is a wonderful thing: $120/kid.  The Y, for my 8 year old, is $256 for four weeks and, for my 11 year old, is $275 for four weeks.  This week at Belmont was $240 per kid.  The next two weeks for basketball camp in Newton, it was $560 per kid for the two weeks.  I think that that adds up to something like twelve billion drachmas.  Or, at least a nice trip to Europe, or to a Scandinavian country where all of this camp is probably free and transportation is included.

Yet another issue is the DOCUMENTATION required, with some camps being more egregious in their documentation requirements than others (I am looking at you, YMCA.)  There is more documentation required to attend camp at the Y than there is to work for Homeland Security (and I say this because I have a friend who works for Homeland Security, so that means that I KNOW.)  BIRTH certificates and IMMUNIZATION records and RECENT PHYSICALS and WAIVERS of LIABILITY and PROOF  of MEDICAL INSURANCE and NAMES of the DENTIST and proof of use of FLUORIDATED water and BPA-FREE water bottles.  It doesn't take me this long to do our taxes.

After all of the timing is worked out and we have secured drop offs and pick ups and submitted the proper documents and paid for all of it with credit cards, which will never have a zero balance, even in drachmas, the next issue is actually GETTING to the camp.  And if the camp is in Waltham, it is probably along the dreaded Beaver Street/Lexington Street corridor.  Which means that, if you leave even one second after 8AM, you will be sitting in traffic for EVER and you will be late to work, anyway.  That is because, along the  B-L Corridor, there is the Girl Scout Camp, camps at Bentley, Running Brook Camp, Prospect Hill, camps at Kennedy Middle School and at the High School, and camps at the Y.  Add in all of the people who are going to work, and the camps that take place at Veterans Field or the Gann Academy on Forest Street, and you have approximately 8 million people, all of whom have whiny kids in the car and who are late for work.  This is replicated, of course, in all of the surrounding communities, so, even though my kids are at camp in Belmont this week, that didn't mean that we didn't witness a woman in a vehicle gesturing wildly at a man in another vehicle at the intersection of Common, Leonard and Concord Streets this morning (that railroad bridge is obnoxious.)

So, did I just mention WHINY KIDS?  Yes, that is another reason that I hate the summer.  Since my kids attend the Y after-school program during the school year and since we spend a lot of time at the outdoor pool at the Y, I do my best to limit the number of weeks that they spend at the Y for camp.  And they still complain and whine.  I picked them up after their first day at Flag Football camp in Belmont yesterday, chosen because they have played flag football in the fall in Belmont for the last two years, and the FIRST THING my older son said was "I don't want to come to camp in Belmont anymore because I don't know anybody."  He also doesn't want to go to camp at the Y where he knows EVERYBODY, so if someone can tell me what I am supposed to do, please do! I am all ears.

Ah, yes, and then the LUNCHES!  The lunches that, depending on the camp, must be 'peanut free' or must have a SNACK packed SEPARATELY and must contain the food that the kids will eat, which is NOTHING because they eat THREE THINGS.  During the school year, my kids buy lunch at school and I know that they are choosing the Sun Butter Sandwich or the Bagel, and yet, I don't see it, so I can ignore it,  and every so often one of them will actually eat something nutritional and mention it at dinner.  The stress of the lunches is something that pains me greatly.  And it pains me even more when they don't eat what I have packed.  Ungrateful wretches.

Throw in some LOST WATER BOTTLES and towels and BATHING SUITS and did I remember the SUNSCREEN? and, well, this is a recipe for disaster.

So this, Gentle Readers, is why I hate summer.  Guess that I'll get the kids in a few hours and then pour a generous gin and tonic, sit on the deck, and contemplate my garden.

Cheers!