By Robin Jovanovich
Ten days, eleven nights seemed doable. All we had to do was make sure an 8-year-old was up at 7, fed, dressed in a clean uniform, equipped with a snack and water bottle, and dropped off at school before 7:55. We needed to circle back six-and-a-half hours later and transport him to one of the 35 activities on his schedule during the week.
That gave me enough time to clean up the mess hall, spend an hour reading and answering a selection of work emails, walk the dog, and possibly bathe.
After driving and dropping off for the rest of the afternoon, we squeezed in dinner, cursorily glanced at his homework, played a few games of Scrabble (the one game I can still beat him at), and even allowed him to play Words with Friends with <my> friends during nightly stints in the laundry room where I got my workout trying to get grass stains out of his school khakis and baseball pants.
Harkening back to our childhoods, we instituted the no-TV rule on school nights, which meant we couldn’t either. Luckily, reading and storytelling is in our genetic makeup.
That first night, I took “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” off the shelf and began reading it aloud. While I think I was a believable Aunt Polly, I didn’t enjoy relating Tom’s antics, which weren’t as humorous as I remembered, and I skipped over all the parts when he was thinking about dying temporarily and running off to be a pirate. The preface by Mark Twain’s daughter, Clara Clemens Samossoud, is what I will remember. She writes about her father’s sensitive side, his wit, his intolerance for pointless people — like Tom!
My grandson asked if we could go back to “The Great Brain” series the next night.
I never went to summer camp but long imagined it was non-stop activity and fun, as long as you followed orders. At Camp J we offer an abundance of the former but have failed miserably in teaching our camper how to make a bed and put the components of one activity away before starting another.
It doesn’t help that my husband has reverted to teen-age habits, tossing his “uniforms” in piles, too.
When the two Peters put on their baseball jerseys (Babe Ruth and Willy Mays, respectively) and go out and play pepper, I use the time to read the schedule and confirm when we have to be at the next practice or game. Is it possible that every 8-year-old in Rye is in the playoffs?
Understandably, a number of scheduling conflicts have arisen. It’s been difficult to make more than a cameo appearance at important fundraisers and still get to Pine Ridge Park in Rye Brook in time to watch him pitch, catch, play first base, maybe score, or simply play hooky.
Ditto making work deadlines and being that chipper camp counselor.
Even though he is a graduate of Rye Nature Center’s Forest School, we’ve informed him that no kids are allowed at the benefit this weekend, so he’s staying home with that babysitter who is not into sports, but definitely likes her social media.
His parents call every day from Tuscany to thank us, see how it’s going, and find out whether he’s done his reading and studied for his vocabulary test. Luckily, the kid is a quick study, and when he’s not stealing my cell phone to watch YouTube videos, he’s absolutely banned from watching at his house, we’re all sticking to the schedule. The schedule, however, is now in flux because one of the teams he’s on won, which means there are more playoffs are on the horizon.