Last week we visited with our friends. While we were there the conversation turned to the fact that I’ve never shot a gun – mainly because it’s difficult to get hold of one in England, but also because they remind me of Simon Cowell. Both are only good for making noise and hurting people. Anyway, they decided to take us out and shoot at beer cans in the woods. We went – (It was awesome – and loud). And now if anyone can-shaped ever attacks me, they’re in for trouble.
…Obviously, as long as I can get to my friend’s house (as he has the guns). And he’s in. And he can load them for me. And remind me where the safety is…
…Just don’t try and rob me if you’re a patient, slow-moving, can.
Anyway – around the same time both my Daughter and my Son started summer camp. This is something I’ve only ever heard about in movies, as we tend not to have summer camp in the UK. The closest we have to it is something called Pontins, and involves your kids being looked after by an adult dressed as an animal of some kind. Now – I mean no disrespect, but I’m not sure the person who had to take a job of being dressed as an owl in August, is probably the best qualified person to look after young children. I would prefer someone who has a few career paths open to them due to their extensive background in education, than someone who has decided to take a gap year – from McDonalds.
When I was young I remember us going away for weeks at a time, which was lovely at first. Then I gradually realized that I was miles from home, and that my parents had left me alone with a bunch of kids I didn’t know. None of them seemed too interested in forming a lasting bond – They seemed more interested in frying bugs and caterpillars. Now – I’m not too keen on frying eggs let alone caterpillars. (I know that seems weird – but if you’ve ever use slightly too much oil, and been cooking in the nude, you’d understand what I mean).
So I tended to spend an awfully long time in the arcade. When I was young that meant Pacman, Pole Position, & Donkey Kong. To my parents, it meant they would never have change in their pockets again. Oh, and that ‘claw’ thing where the claw itself appeared to have all the grip of a pensioner in a coma. Essentially you paid good money to give everything in the cabinet a good stroking.
Occasionally they would have ‘movie nights’ which were always in the afternoon, and they always showed ‘Return to Witch Mountain‘. And other than that the entertainment was musical chairs. Which is basically kids fighting with chairs. If you don’t want kids to fight – give them enough chairs. You can just pick a winner – it’s not about getting the prize. It’s about not being the jerk who didn’t sit down quick enough.
That’s enough about me… So my kids are starting at summer camp. Now, the first thing you should know about my kids is that they’re both awesome. Yes, yes – I know you think your kids are wonderful too – but that’s just you being a parent. I can quite objectively say that my kids are better than any other kids on the face of the planet. So there.
Montana (my daughter) is fifteen and has volunteered to be a ‘leader’ for some of the kids in groups – and Dylan (my son) is seven and was volunteered to be a kid in a group. They were both a bit nervous the first day, as Montana had visions of it all going a bit ‘Lord Of The Flies’, and one of the younger kids getting the Conch and telling everyone else to push the giant to the ground, tie her up then start painting on the walls. Dylan had similar visions but for him they were hopes rather than fears.
So they began, and the first day was a bit rough (for Dylan – Montana soon found out that she could boss kids around like she does our dog. While telling a child to ‘sit’ and ‘be quiet’ is fair enough, we had to stop it when she started throwing them sticks and making them beg for a cookie.). Dylan had been trying to make friends – and the thing is Dylan is a really sweet kid (he gets that from his Mom) – but he doesn’t understand that some other kids are just jerks. (No, no – not yours. Yours are lovely. Wonderful. Yes, very special). So some other kids would rather pull the heads off Barbie dolls than try and make a giant robot. Some kids would rather eat glue than paint pictures. People are just different – which is a wonderful, valuable lesson for any kid to learn. Unless the kid they’re learning it from is a jerk.
So one of these kids responded to Dylan with ‘Who’d want to play with you?’. And this upset Dylan. And his sister (being awesome) came to comfort him. She assured him that the kid was just mean, and had been equally mean to other kids – so Dylan shouldn’t let it bother him.
And here’s why it’s better that he spoke to Montana (sister) instead of Liz (Mom). Montana gave him sage advice that will see him well through the years. Liz would have picked the other kid up by the shirt and thrown him several miles – yet still ensured he landed face-first in something that almost always comes out the other end.
…That’s also why I don’t argue with Liz.
Dylan came home and told us that he had decided he didn’t want to go to summer camp anymore. So we sat down with him and explained that sometimes you are forced to spend time with people you don’t like. (Liz kept staring at me as she was saying that. I’m sure it’s unrelated.). We explained that he should take this as an opportunity to set a good example for the mean kids – and not let them upset him. He listened attentively for the first few words, then decided Lego’s were far more interesting than me. (In fairness, they are – although in my defense little bits of me don’t get lost down the back of the couch).
He went back the next day, and that afternoon I got a call. Now, like I said earlier – my kids are the most awesome kids in the world – but I think every parent is concerned when they get an unexpected phone call from the place responsible for their care. The first reaction is ‘Oh No! Are they okay?’ – The second is ‘Oh No! How much do I owe?’ – and the third is ‘Oh No! Does that wash out?’. In this case, it was none of the above. It was instead one of the Directors of the Summer Camp – and they wanted to let us know how proud they were of Dylan.
I may have mentioned before that my children are the most intelligent, best looking, cleanest, awesomest kids on the face of the planet. And I genuinely believe that – but it still comes as a surprise when someone not blood-related agrees with you…
She told me that apparently Dylan had come across some kids trying to kill a caterpillar.
And he’d told them why it was a bad thing to do.
And he’d told them what breed of caterpillar it was.
And what type of leaves it ate.
And he told them he wouldn’t let them kill it.
…And he stopped them.
See..? …Awesome. Both of them.
So I went to pick them up that night. I saw them walking toward me in the dusk, Dylan slightly behind and to the side of Montana. As they came closer, I realized that I had never been prouder of both our kids than I was at that very moment.
…And then I realised Montana had him walking to heel.