Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer 2016

I may have tried to intimidate a room full of grade school kids. Just now.

This was the first week of summer vacation. As a kid, the first week of summer was the single greatest week of the year. As a parent, it is the opposite.

All kinds of cool
This summer we decided to send Finn to the very posh Fitch Mountain Day Camp, while Liam is attending the good ole' Boys and Girls Club. A lot of factors went into making this decision, but ultimately I think we figured Finn was going to need the fancy camp with it's daily swimming, water slides, bouncy houses, carnivals, endless games, and high ratio of adult supervisors to campers, while Liam needs to see a little more of the real world. With his 7th birthday looming, he's practically a man, and we don't want him to lose his edge. The Boys and Girls Club is kind of like that low-rent gym Apollo takes Rocky to in Rocky III. Eye of the tiger, baby.

If you're thinking, "Way to toughen up and send that boy out of the nest, come what may," it's because you didn't see me on the first day. Finn cried out pitiably as I left him behind at his new Kinderspa. I knew he'd be okay, but it was enough to spark the waterworks. Liam and I walked into the Boys and Girls Club and he was mesmerized by the sight of it. There were about forty kids there already, a few teenagers lurking in the corners, and maybe three or four young adults trying to manage the chaos. I walked him around a bit, showed him where the bathroom is, panicked a little because I was just allowed unsupervised in the bathroom with a child and no one really knew who I was so who the hell is going to prevent some pervert from....(breathe, breathe), checked in with the club's manager, and said my goodbyes. He said, "goodbye Daddy", and, with nervous determination, plunged right into the mix. I managed to keep it together halfway across the parking lot before the image of him, getting bullied for not being able to speak properly and ending up playing all alone in a dingy side room with some busted old Legos, came flooding into my mind's eye. I couldn't go back to work for an hour afterward.

I insisted on being there later that day for the 1pm pickup time for both boys. Finn was fine, of course. No surprise there. I readied myself to go pick up Liam, certain I'd find him in a state of abject misery, which was of course the opposite of what I found. His group was in the art room doing some cool clay sculptures and when I said I was there to take him home, he had a little meltdown. I let him stay for another hour and went away to berate myself for freaking out every time.

The entire week just got better and better, with the exception of two small hiccups. On Tuesday my phone buzzed and it was the number from the Boys and Girls Club. This image from around this time last year immediately came to mind:

Summer 2015. Boo.

I answered in a panic and the club director said "LIAM IS FINE, but he had a little accident". Two days later I got an identical call from Finn's club. Both boys are in strange new places with more independence than they're used to, so I wasn't too surprised. I figure Finn's resort has everyone in swimsuits all the time, so I'm sure 95% of the kids, and 30% of the adults, are peeing their pants most days anyway. Liam had me worried though. Grade school feels like it wasn't all that long ago. I remember how we were. We reveled in our abuse of the kids who embarrassed themselves. We were merciless and cruel. We would search for any ammunition we could, and would use it indefinitely.

So at this morning's drop of I found myself standing a little taller and doing my best to look sinister. I didn't really plan to put on a show, but I hadn't dropped Liam off since his first day, and some animal instinct kicked in. I thought why not? I'm 6'8", 230lbs, and my angel son isn't well-equipped to defend himself. I walked him to his cubby, making sure to make eye contact with any kids looking my way. There were quite a few, ha HA! I knelt down and gave him a manly hug before walking out, making sure to duck slightly under the doorway as I left. Yes, I'm a little ashamed.