I did not really like summer camp as a child. I remember I had to go to the YMCA day camp for a while, and then my mom sent my sister, brother, and I to Vacation Bible School at a Baptist Church. We were Catholic. Go figure. I guess if it's all Jesus, that's okay, right?
Anyway, the YMCA day camp felt very isolating. It was in this big, cavernous gym, with bunches of kids, none of whom I knew. We went on field trips and had contests--everything that should have made a kid thrilled. Not me. I was painfully shy and had trouble making friends. Mostly, I remember playing by myself and sticking with the counselors, who were like surrogate mommies to me, when what I really wanted was to be home with my mom, who was at work--like me now.
Fast forward to my own kids going to summer camp for the first time. I had a revelation yesterday that they are now forming their own childhood memories. These are the summers they'll remember as the "when I was a kid..." times. Oh, the responsibility of this makes me so nervous. What if they don't like camp? What if they have a bad experience that they remember forever and blame me for putting them there--for working.
I took T1 and T2 to camp for their first day on August 3. They knew 3 kids there from their previous pre-school. Long standing friends with whom they had fantastic relationships. There was even a counselor there from their pre-school. They'd be okay, I told myself. They had "people" there.
T1 has a similar personality to mine. He's sensitive, shy, and slow to warm. I projected all of my own childhood fears onto his experience. T2 will be fine, I thought. She's the social butterfly. No problems for her. I packed their lunches (special sugary treats included so they'd think fondly of me during the day. Why that works, I don't know), kissed them goodbye, and crossed my fingers for a good day. When I came to pick them up, the counselors' reports were all happy and upbeat. They had a great time! they said. T1 actually joined in the games and made friends faster and more easily than T2. T2 got into the game late in the day, but really, overall, they loved it.
You mean their lives aren't going to be the same as mine? Their childhoods will be different? As twins, their experience will always be different than mine. They will always have each other wherever they go together. I suppose that takes some of the pressure off. A week-and-a-half into camp now, and they're both loving it. And why not? Playing games, going swimming, and making new friends (friends that may last a lifetime, as other people tell me happens sometimes at camp) are infinitely more fun than hanging out with Mommy.
They're growing up.