Yesterday, Liam started day camp at his new school. Our new house isn’t ready yet so we’re camping out in a hotel for 3 weeks; we’re essentially homeless in a strange city and day camp seemed like a good way to get out of the hotel room and hopefully make some friends. Today, the campers are going on an all-day field trip to Water Country!; a water park with giant tube slides and wave pools and assumingly kajillions of children and I can’t believe no one ever drowns at these places. How do you keep track of multiple campers in that sea of children? Many of whom are stuck in tubes? Why did I put Liam in navy blue swim trunks??? This is the time for blaze orange swim trunks! And maybe one of those tall bike flags attached to his back.
Last night, after Liam goes to bed, my husband confesses that he is also nervous about Water Country!. How do children stay alive in there? With only high school kids to protect them? When we were in high school, our idea of responsibility was having the least intoxicated person drive. I decide I need to ask some questions of the counselors to get a firmer grip on reality. I’ve used this technique before to quell my fears when I feel like no one else has fears to quell. It’s always comforting to find out that I’m a little bit crazy instead of finding out that my kid is in real danger.
So I don’t act like “concerned mom” or “very thorough mom” or even “control freak mom.” I just call a spade a spade and hope that they feel sorry for me so they’ll take extra good care of my child. I find the homecoming queen who seems to be the teenager in charge and I say “Hi. I’m the paranoid mom. We just moved here a week ago and Liam just started camp yesterday and he doesn’t know anyone and I don’t know anything about Water Country! and I’m freaking out a little bit. Liam looks like a really good swimmer when he’s under water but he can’t breathe under there and when he comes up for air he sinks like a stone. And then he’ll look like a really good swimmer again but remember he can’t breathe under there. How a person can be such a good swimmer AND unable to tread water is a mystery to me. If he could just tread water my life would change forever. So anyway, I just need a little information about what Water Country! is and how you supervise the campers while you’re there so I don’t follow the bus and waste my precious free day peering through the gates scanning the crowd for a small boy with blaze orange trunks and a flag attached to his back.”
And, bless her teenage heart, she made me feel so much better. She got her clipboards and her binders (that’s how I knew she was in charge) and she showed me how they divided the kids by age and ability, she explained the counselor to camper ratios and how Water Country! has no deep water except in the wave pool area (which they avoid because it’s too dangerous and difficult to supervise. Big points, sister, BIG POINTS!).
Now I can breathe.
Liam returned from Water Country! unscathed if not a little pink and a little unsure of himself. He’s very aware of being the new kid and his friendmaking software doesn’t seem to be fully operational right now. But it has only been two days. And the kid is homeless. So I’m going to lower all of my expectations for a while and let him watch tv and eat fig newtons in my bed. Being homeless can render a kid (and his parents) a little wonky and I think a little pampering might be the best thing for all of us.