Camp Mom, or I’m Really Not Part of the Solution

This morning was registration for 2011/2012 school year enrichment for my kids, who will be three.   I appreciate that “enrichment” at this play-based school is also play-based.

I wanted my kids to get into the sports and games class as well as the “Superhero Boot Camp” class, which is basically a nice mix of running around and play-acting.

Parents were asked to be at the school by 7:45to sign up for the enrollment, which would begin at 8:00 sharp.  We were going to be given placement in order of arrival at the school.

Before enrollment, I was chatting with some parents. Most had signed their 3-5 year-olds up for a variety of summer activities.  No one seemed to be having their kids spend the summer at home or, as I like to call it, Camp Mom.  My kids will be attending Camp Mom this summer because (a) most out-of-home opportunities they could go to without me require them to be potty-trained and (b) I actually want to spend my lazy summer days with the boys, as I know fairly soon they will be begging to spend summers away from me.

One mama who has a child who just turned three (the little girl is but a few weeks older than mine) said that tomorrow she is doing a “24-hour potty training” of her daughter in order for the girl to qualify for a ½ camp program.

Another mama said she has hired her son a “buddy” for the summer. I’m assuming that means a teenager or college kid I’m also assuming this is more of a baby-sitter than nanny situation.  Someone to come over a few hours a day or a week to play with her kid.

A third mom spent significant time explaining to me her daughter’s summer schedule, which will extend into the fall.  Swimming one day, dance the next, a different kind of dance (Ballet! With French terms used properly!) the day after, soccer the fourth day, and two days a week an intensive math and reading prep program that, for $200/week with a minimum of
16 months, promises to get your child one grade level ahead in their skills.  I’m assuming on the 7th day, they will let her rest.

Did I mention the kid is three?

She talked about how since her daughter was in the play-based preschool, she wanted her daughter to have disciplined classes
elsewhere. The mom went on about how competitive it is “around here” and how her husband had blossomed into valedictorianhood after starting on a similar track.  She also admitted that she (a) had not been a great student (b) still had a great college experience and career thereafter (c) did not have any study habits (d) never took this kind of course as a young child.

She said she wants her kid ready for when they test for gifted and talented programs in 1st grade.

It’s interesting how quickly my defense mechanisms and worrywartisms went into effect.  Am I denying my kids learning experiences? Will they not get into g&t programs if I don’t put them in a lot of classes?  Are they going to end up the proverbial ditch diggers because every other child in this town seems to
already have their kid tracked and ready to fill out well-rounded college applications?

It’s also interesting how quickly my defense mechanisms went
down.  I will not fall into that competitive trap.  My kids will be ready for kindergarten.  They will also have their childhood scheduled out of them.

Of course I had plenty of time to hear all these stories and
contemplate my own decisions about my kids because I arrived at school at 6:30 for the 7:45 sign-up to make sure I would get my kids into the classes with limited space.

The savvy head of school had already put the sign-up sheet
was on the door.

I was not the first parent there.

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