(Mom Camp Update – For those of you who read about the Great Compromise of 2012 last week, most of you will be happy to know that Dimples was mostly able to keep up her end of the bargain. We decided this week to actually specify the number of acceptable hours using the television or video equipment. She said 5, and I said 2. Then she said 4, and I said 3 1/2. And she agreed. Which was the number I wanted anyway.)
Deeply embedded within the DNA of the Firepants family is an inherent reluctance to part with any material belongings. Fortunately, I married into the family, so I do not have this gene. My mother-in-law, husband, and daughter, however, all share this trait. And during this Summer of Purging that has come upon us, I find myself doing daily battle with it.
The most recent disposal dust-up occurred last night as we finally “forced” Dimples, our 9 year old, to give up her twin bed that she had slept in since she was a toddler. It did not matter that she complains on a regular basis about the uncomfortable mattress that shrieks whenever she even thinks about moving a muscle. It did not matter that she is being given the full-sized bed that has the best mattress in the house – luxuriously comfortable and minus the mildew smell I still detect in our newest mattress. It did not matter that we are not throwing her old bed away, but giving it to a relative who needs it even more.
“I can’t watch,” she dramatically declared as her eyes filled with tears and she backed out of her bedroom. Cap’n Firepants pulled up the mattress, leaned it against a wall, and then gathered up the box-spring.
“Well, look here!” he said, disapprovingly, as the floor beneath the bed was revealed for the first time in probably 2 years.
“Oh, look!” Dimples said, excitedly, as she peered around the doorjamb to view the treasure that had accumulated beneath her sleeping form after 24 months.
Cap’n Firepants went to get a trash bag. Because he assumed the detritus needed to go in the garbage. Silly man.
Tears forgotten, Dimples leapt into the middle of the bed frame and began to inventory the new discoveries. Reunited with fuzzy socks and puzzle pieces, she suddenly cared nothing about her bed.
Cap’n Firepants returned, and started “cleaning up”.
“NO!!!” Dimples yelled as he grabbed a sticky looking item and routed it toward the garbage bag. ”That’s my slappy hand!”
The Cap’n looked doubtfully at the lint-covered stretchy toy he was holding, and looked at me.
I shrugged. ”That’s her slappy hand,” I said. Frustrated, he returned it to her, giving me the look that I probably give him every time he refuses to part with one of his Extremely Valuable Belongings that he had completely forgotten existed.
And why, you may ask, had the canine vacuum we call “Wonderbutt” not taken care of this mess a long time ago? Primarily because the bed was too low to the ground to permit His Rotundness underneath. We now know, however, why, when allowed in the Forbidden Section, he generally made a beeline straight for Dimples’ room.
After somewhat sorting the collection of debris into piles elsewhere in the room, and thoroughly sucking up all dust and microscopic mites, the old/new bed was installed. Dimples declared it a success, completely forgetting her initial hysterics over the entire episode.
And I realized, a bit belatedly, that we had just expanded the Underground Railroad for runaway socks.
So, the other day I mentioned my intention to enlist my 9 year old daughter into “Mom Camp” for the summer. Then, the other other day, I was with my mother-in-law on a tour of a potential independent living facility (for her, not me), and suddenly – poof! – two ideas met and married each other within seconds in my brain. It was a match made in heaven.
Actually, it was a match made in the Catholic chapel at the independent living facility. And if you have followed me for awhile, you will probably be quite surprised that it was only an idea that struck me, and not a bolt of lightning – what with my Harry Potter nativity at Christmas and my attempts to join the Order of the Temple of the Jedi.
Anyway, here’s the idea. I guess it’s not technically an invention, but oh well. And I must give some credit to one of my commenters on the Mom Camp post, Time to Be Inspired, who thought, for just a moment, that I was talking about a camp for moms instead of a camp run by Mom. Easy mistake to make when you think about it.
So, as we were being shown all of the lovely facilities at the independent living site, I grew increasingly convinced that this peaceful place, with all of the amenities (hair salon, library, three dining areas, heated pool, etc…) was exactly the type of place to which I needed to immediately move.
Of course, there’s the problem of the 9 year old daughter. And the Wonderbutt. I think I could sneak Mrs. P.I.B. in as a therapy dog – at least until the first thunderstorm, during which the residents would see that she is the one who needs the therapy.
O.K. So, I can’t live there. But a
month week weekend there would be just the kind of camp I need. A camp of peace and quiet with three meals a day and an emergency pull cord in my room in case I get bored am attacked by my viciously inefficient colon.
So, here’s my idea: PLACES LIKE THIS SHOULD RENT OUT ROOMS TO MOMS! WHO NEED PEACE AND QUIET! And don’t want to do archery and karaoke and make a craft like those other “mom” camps advertise.
Think about the money they could make! They could even have some kind of Frequent Trier Program, where the more times you “try” the place out, the better chance you have getting permanent residency when you’re actually old enough to live there.
Every mom who is reading this KNOWS that this is a great idea. And someday, when someone else implements it, and makes millions of dollars, you can point out to them that I, Mrs. Cap’n Firepants, mother of Dimples, Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B., was the first one to think of it.
“So, what do you two have planned for the week?” my husband asked my 9 year old and me at the dinner table.
“The pool.” “Clean out a couple of closets.”
I think you can figure out who gave which answer.
Dimples is such a neat freak.
O.K. Fine. I was the one with the closet response. Because I was trying to impress Cap’n Firepants with my planned productivity for the week, and trying to spare him from regretting too much that he is not a teacher or a nine year old that has 2.5 carefree months lying ahead. I am a caring, kind-hearted person who does not like to rub things in. Unlike some other people who shall remain nameless, but may or may not have the nickname of “Dimples.”
O.K. Fine. My idea of fun is organizing closets. You got me.
As you can probably tell, Dimples and I have very different ideas on how this summer is going to go down. Our divergent objectives started to become apparent about two months ago when I unsuccessfully tried to sign her up for various different classes. To each offer, she shrugged, and said, “I don’t really think I’d like that.” I quickly realized that she did not want “to be tied down”. If there had been a class which included unlimited access to the neighborhood pool every day from 8-4, she still would have declined – because that would have held her to a schedule.
Plan B was “Mom Camp”. We did this a couple of summers ago. It was a complicated arrangement involving popsicle sticks and two cans that helped to ensure that she did not spend her entire weekdays watching the Disney Channel. Although she rolled her eyes every time I responded, “Mom Camp” to those who inquired about her summer activities, I believed that, deep down, she secretly liked it.
Or, I could have been wrong.
“I don’t want to do Mom Camp!” she said, quite firmly.
“Well, what do you want to do?” I asked.
“Whatever I want.”
My turn for eyeball rolling. ”I am not letting you watch T.V. and play video games all day.”
So, I came up with a compromise, which I think is more than fair. For the next week, she gets to do things her way. She can prove to me how great she is at monitoring her tube time and coming up with creative activities for the rest of the day.
If, after a week, I am dissatisfied with the way she is conducting her summer, then I get to take over – with the New, Improved Version of Mom Camp.
We shook hands. And I pretended not to notice how limp hers was.