the summer wind… came blowin’ in

First, let me say thank you to all those other tooth-collectors out there. I'm glad I'm not alone. Also, welcome to those folks surfing in from today's Carnival of Feminists.

Next week is the last week of school, and the Bee is filled with excitement. She was telling us at dinner tonight that next week will be her Best! Week! Ever!, because they are just going to have fun every day, and not have to learn anything. Then after dinner, she told me that she loves school, that fall is her favorite season, and her favorite subject is math. The mind of an almost-second-grader races on, unabated.

We also got the paperwork today for the first of the two day camps that she will be attending this summer. As usual, I am slapping myself over the head with regret that I did not photocopy her immunization record the last twenty or thirty times I got one, and will have to call the doctor's office tomorrow to see if they can produce one for us overnight. I might as well get two while I'm at it, because I'm sure that the second camp is also going to need one, and that in my haste to get the paperwork done for the first camp, I will once again forget to photocopy it.

And let me just say, whoa Nelly is summer camp expensive! I thought day care was bad! Can you write this off on your taxes as a child care expense? Please say yes, because otherwise we're going to have to hock the Potato to pay for it. The first camp that the Bee is going to is a YMCA camp out in the woods. Fortunately, there is bussing. Unfortunately, the bus drops her off at 5:05 p.m. I can see I'll be changing my work schedule slightly there. The daily activities consist of things like archery (what every six-year-old needs!), swimming, and making pleather lanyards.

The second camp is near where I work, in a local science museum. The hours are better, and the curriculum is slightly more academic (there are weekly projects on dinosaurs, space exploration, etc.), but the cost of that one for five weeks is more than I paid for my first car. (Oh '76 Camaro, where are you now?)758a_camaro_05.jpg

My dad was a high school teacher, so even after my mom went back to work, I never really went to camp. I was jealous of my friends who did get to go, while I was stuck in what my dad called Summer School. At the time, I never realized that it was strange for a man to stay home all day with his kids, but now I wonder what it was like for my dad, to be the only guy in our neighborhood who was taking his kids on nature walks, and teaching them how to draw cartoons, and introducing them to the likes of Don Knotts and the Greek pantheon. In his prime, my dad was a legendary teacher, and I think he saved some of his best teaching for his own children during those summers.

Some of my best memories of my dad are from the summers that he stayed home with us. Last weekend, I took my kids to a park, and remembered how he would teach us to find snapping turtles, and how he and his best friend spent a whole summer one year searching for antique bottles in the sands of a local creek. My dad was a third generation native of South Jersey, and he grew up hunting and fishing in the Jersey Pine Barrens with my grandfather and his friends. He knew every plant that grew, how to find tadpoles, what back roads to take to avoid the Phillly traffic to the Shore on a summer weekend. We spent days just wandering around on sandy roads that went nowhere, or to towns that stopped existing around the time the telegraph was invented.

When landisdad started his new job, I was a little worried about the fact that he would be working every Sunday, and I would be doing the solo parenting thing. One of the things that I've figured out in the last three months is that the Sundays that work best are the ones where I have a plan to do something fun–even if it's only to have a picnic in the park. My dad filled our days with activity (though I'm sure I'm forgetting the boring times), and I want my kids to remember our days together the way I remember days with my dad–full of fun and learning about stuff they don't teach in school.

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June 7, 2006. growing up. 16 comments.