Liberation came in early July.
For one glorious week during that sunstruck month, both kids were away at camp. Each day was like a holiday -- no fights, no whining about being bored, no meal-time squabbling and complaining, no taxi service all over town, no arguments at bedtime.
Each year, we would invite friends over for the "Annual Kids Are Away at Camp Dinner." Often, some of our friends had kids at camp, too, which heightened the atmosphere of carefree joviality that pervaded these merry banquets
All good things must pass, however, and as Sunday approached, a cloud of gloom would descend upon us as we contemplated the end of this halcyon week: The kids would soon be coming home, and life would return to normal. Oh, woe was us.
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I recalled all this recently as I read, with jaw-dropping disbelief, about the phenomenon of "kid-sick" parents. And, no, this doesn't involve parents who are sick of their kids.
The phrase is a play on "homesick." In a reversal of roles, it isn't the children who are homesick and hesitant about being dropped off at camp; it's the parents who are weepy and reluctant to leave their little princes and princesses behind. They're kid-sick!
If I were diagnosing them, I would say they were simply sick. Go on, I would tell them, make a run for it while you can. Get home and have some kidless fun.
Apparently, though, I have become the exception. Camp counselors and directors now report that they have to spend more time soothing anxious parents than tending to homesick campers.
One camp director said she deals with "10 times" as many phone calls from worried, meddling parents than she used to. Camps have been forced to establish rules barring parents from contacting their children by cell phone or e-mail.
I remember when the sole line of communication between campers and parents was the U.S. Postal Service. Counselors would force campers to write at least one letter home during their stay: "Dear Mom and Dad, Im haveing a grate time at camp. Love, Billy."
If the camp session was long enough, some campers would receive "care packages" from home, usually cookies crushed en route and some family news. But, in my experience as both a camper and counselor, few kids had trouble severing ties with home once they got accustomed to camp life.
The experts believe that the new separation anxiety parents are suffering results, in part, from the inability to adjust to the communication blackout with their children. Parents are so used to be being able to contact their children 24 hours a day by cell phone or computer that the abrupt silence at the other end of the line is disconcerting.
Some parents also allegedly think the world is more dangerous today than it used to be. And that, they believe, gives them license to hover over their children like gnats.
It apparently doesn't occur to them that summer camp is one of the safest, best supervised environments on the planet. It seems they also fail to realize -- or admit -- that kids usually benefit from being out of their parents' orbit for a few weeks.
It teaches them coping skills, self-reliance and how to short-sheet a bed. And trust me, parents, your kids aren't missing you -- at least not as much as you'd like to believe.
So, go home, relax, put your feet up and celebrate. The little darlings will be home soon enough.
If you seem to be developing the symptoms of kid-sickness, take two glasses of wine and call me in the morning.