Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Nothing to fear but fear itself

I am not sending my son to Action Camp. 

Our town has an Action Camp each summer for 5 weeks.  I hear wonderful things about it.  Apparently it is not only safe and nearby but all the campers have a ball.  It's only 3 hours a day too.  The perfect amount of time to get some work done while your kids are off having fun.

But I am not sending my son to Action Camp.

"Aren't you afraid that Big A will lose touch with all the good friends he's made this year?" another Mom asked me.  (Her town has a similar camp and she and her kids love it.)

Until this moment no, no I was not.  But now I am. Now I am afraid he will lose all his friends and become a social pariah. Thank you for that.

"Aren't you afraid that when you get sick of having him around this summer there will be no respite, NOWHERE to drop him?" she asked.

Yes. I AM in fact afraid of what will happen when I run out of ideas, we're hot, grouchy and the kids are having a steel cage match to see who can whine more.  I will have no break. I now possess this fear as well.

"And how about the fun?" she persists. "Aren't you afraid he's going to miss out on a great time?"

I have now broken out in hives.

Note that all three of the questions I was asked began with "Aren't you afraid?"

Yes! Yes...I'm afraid he'll miss out on the fun.  I have a vision of Big A, on the top of the monkey bars in a nearby park as he gazes over at the happy campers. I picture him shrieking miserably "WHY?  WHY DIDN'T YOU SEND ME TO ACTION CAMP?! DAMN YOU, MOMMY! DAMN YOU! OH THE HUMANITY OF IT ALL!"

But all of this fear is not enough for me to send Big A to Action Camp. It's not because of the money. It's not because I want him to myself all summer. It's not even because 1 week out of the 5 he'll be at Vacation Bible School or because we belong to a beach club, even though these are all good reasons.

I'm not sending Big A to Action Camp because, quite simply, he doesn't want to go. 

His summer plans, as he's explained them to me, include not going to school, camping in the backyard with his friends, and a trip to Sesame Place where he can eat "a blue cupcake".  He also wants to go the beach, jump off the diving board "a zillion times" and eat "a blue ice pop".  While his plans may include a high number of of unnaturally blue things, they don't include Action Camp.

When I mentioned a lot of his friends were going he sort of shrugged and asked if they could come over after they were done with camp.  Sounds reasonable.  I think my introvert son realizes that he's had to keep it together all year in the super-stimulated world of kindergarten and he's ready to chill out this summer by having nowhere in particular to be.

He doesn't seem to care that he's one of the few kids not going to Action Camp.  And at age (almost) 6, I may not be able let him decide what time to go to bed, but he definitely can decide this.  If I worked outside of the home, that might be a different story. He might have to go to Action Camp, whether he wanted to or not, because it's a cost-effective childcare solution.  

But to be brutally honest, I was worried for a while about going against the grain and having my son not attend.  Fear is a great motivator. Would he be missing oodles of fun?  Would he indeed lose touch with his new friends? Everyone else seems to be going and having a blast...what's wrong with my kid that he doesn't want to? Fear is so powerful it almost made me override my son's wishes and sign him up for something he specifically doesn't want to do.  And that's when I realized, not just with this small situation but with many future situations that I don't want to be swayed, colored or RUN by fear. 

And so it is written.  No action camp for the Big A this year.  There's always next year.

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