Hello Muddah Hello Faddah

My son hates camp.  I expected he would. He told me he would, pretty much every day leading up to check-in.

It’s a Spanish Immersion camp run by a well-respected language institution. From the minute we stepped on campus, English was gone.  Even check in was in Spanish, which, by the way, I speak almost none of. A perky camp counselor introduced herself and rambled off instructions. My son’s eyes expressed nothing but resentment, not even a flicker of understanding. She finished talking, and I know it was a question because her voice went up at the end.

My son grunted. Something like “uhm.” I had no idea what that meant. Neither did the counselor.

After she left, my husband and I suggested that he might want to say something more substantive to indicate whether or not he had a clue about what he was supposed to do next.

“I know what they said.” He had that geez Mom tone in his voice. He rambled off a long list of tasks we need to complete, in order. “Happy?”

Oh yes. So very happy. Couldn’t he tell?

They handed him an elective sheet and it did nothing to better his mood.  Singing, Dancing, Cooking, Remedial Spanish and Aztec Culture. Aztec Culture it is! “Don’t worry,” they said. “He’ll get to try the others over the four week period.”

I looked at him and he mouthed the word “lame.” I told him that maybe cooking would be okay. “You beg to go to Chipotle every day. At least you’ll get to eat.” He moves right to the death glare. Time for us to leave.

The next day, they let the kids text or call their parents during a quick pre-dinner break. He can text with multiple parties at once.  Call his parents and he’s stuck.  That, and he’d have to actually speak.

Camp sucks.

We were ready for that.

Exactly what makes it suck?

The people, Spanish, the classes, the atmosphere, the phone policy, the activities, people’s energy, the food, the beds, the showers, most teachers, the fields, the air, the water

It sucks the life out of every living creature

If I trip and ACCIDENTALLY break my knee, can I come home?

How does one respond to that? Please, please don’t break your knee? I resort to what I know best.

I can send cookies

He continues on to tell us that he’s bored, it’s too easy, and he has no time to run, which makes me snort because he didn’t run a single day all Spring. Luckily, he can’t hear me, so I can still try the sympathetic mother approach. I’m good at that, too.

You have to know I’d love to run up there and make it “all better” by bringing you home, but do you really think that’s the best solution?

What a dumb thing to say. I totally set myself up with that one.


Before his texting time is up, we (and by that I mean I) agree that he needs to actually voice his concerns to someone who can do something about it.  If that fails, his father and I will voice his concerns to someone who can do something about it.

Our solution is to fix it, not toss it.

Some things need to be tossed. Like Kevin Youklis, or Manny Ramirez.

At least he didn’t liken camp to Julio Lugo.

No parent wants their kid to be miserable.  But isn’t figuring out how to make things work part of the learning process? Finding that one thing that makes a moment worthwhile? If you do that, and string all of those moments together, you can have a pretty happy life. I know he’d be ecstatic if we brought him home, and wouldn’t think twice about the life lesson lost, but I would.

It’s true that some things in life can’t be fixed. But in trying he will gain maturity and perspective. Honestly, there are a lot worse things he could be stuck with than four weeks on a beautiful college campus with a ton of other kids who are probably as miserable as he is, each of them thinking they are alone. In the meantime, I’ll send him food. That much I can fix.

If I bring him home, he learns that if you don’t like it, you can always bail. While some things need to be tossed, most things in life can’t. You need to deal with them. Just as I have to deal with an unhappy child.

Maybe my mom can send me some cookies, too.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Brian Richardson

11 comments on “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah

  1. MGB says:

    Great post. I love the humor in your pieces about your son…they are actually my favorites. Kind of a Dorothy Parker meets modern mom of teenager. I chuckle, I nod, I wince….and I always find something to think about with my own kids. Well done!

  2. whimsygizmo says:

    Oh, Jeannine. What wonderful “brick and mortar” friends you and I would be, if distance was not a factor. I long to sit down and have a cup of coffee with you. Such humor in these words. Mine are only 9 and 10, but this ‘teen angst” is already starting to creep in here and there. Your writing is absolutely every bit as delightful as it is insightful. Love it.

  3. russtowne says:

    I greatly enjoyed tihis post. Please keep ’em coming!


  4. Loved it Jeannine. I’m sorry, I should know this, but how old is he now? As I’m sure you are aware, teenagers would mostly prefer to be left alone with their friends. They mostly hate anything that drags them out of their comfort zone and would never admit to their parents that they enjoyed the experience. I’m sure he’s having fun, just not willing to say so.

  5. hiyacynthia says:

    Well, now I feel bad now that my girls both LOVED their camps this year. I hope he really does end up having a good experience in the end so that he doesn’t resent you for sending him. A lot can change in four weeks!

  6. […] the best post you’ve ever written, in your opinion? Provide the link so we can check it out! The summer camp chronicles were the Dude at his epically awesome […]

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