Last week, I wrote about my dilemma with summer day camp and how my son did not adjust to it at all.
I explained as best as I could that I wanted him to try day camp because sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. I also explained that it is OK to walk away from situations that make him unhappy.
I did try to have a conversation with the camp, just like some of you suggested in my last post. I explained that I did love their program but inquired on why they had so much structure and why they give children so little time for free play?
I was a little insulted with their response.
First, they blamed his age and suggested the younger group. OK I can understand to a certain point. The younger group has less structure and more time for free play. He is the youngest in this particular group where in the other group, he would be the eldest. I also dont agree with too much structure with school aged kids - no matter the age. Recess was invented for a reason. It makes me loose hope in the world. When I was a kid, at recess time, my best friend and I would play witch and vampire. We came up with our own games. We used our imaginations. I got the impression that this was discouraged at this camp. WTF? Which leads me to....
Then they told me that they were no child psychologists but they implied that it was NOT normal for kids to want downtime. I guess with the majority of the population being extroverts, one does not see how social interactions can be draining for some people. I guess being an introvert myself, I can understand where Philip is coming from. Besides, who wants to be normal anyway???? Let the extroverts have their stupid overly-structured no imagination camp!
I noticed this past week he has been taking a shit load of tantrums and his behavior was really bad. I asked him what was up his ass. He told me: "I dont want to go to camp. I hate it there"
In my opinion, why make him go there? Isnt the point of summer day camp to be fun? I would understand if I didnt have any other options but I do. I am fortunate to have a mom who is over the moon to be able to spend time with her grandson this summer. He is bonding with her and lets be honest. My mom wont be around forever. He seems much happier to go to Grandma's. Who wouldn't? She spoils the shit out of him, takes him to Mcdonald's, buys him all sorts of crap, and then sends him home! If I did half the things my son did at her house, she would have kicked my ass like there was no tomorrow! So far, he drew on the walls, played ball in the basement and talked back to her once - which I gave him shit for it and thankfully hasnt done it since. The worst part is my mom simply chalked it up as "he's just a little boy." My ass he is!
I know some people were concerned because I lost a lot of money because I pulled him out of camp. To me, it's just money.
The only thing I am concerned about is whether or not I am doing the right thing. I dont want him to be miserable BUT I dont want to be that parent who coddles their kid to death either. I made it very clear with him that in school, no matter how much he bitches and complains, he HAS to go and he has to participate. His response "my best friend is at school. I can do what I want at recess and lunch. School is better than camp, mommy" Wow, the kid prefers school over camp!
I also noticed that he seems more relaxed while at my mom's. He comes home and tells me about all these cool imaginary games he came up with in her backyard. He is now drawing his adventures in an old scrapbook and is "reading" them to the cats. Pippin in particular has been very good about this. He actually curls up next to Philip and listen to his stories intently about knights, vampires, castles, and dragons.
We will try again next year. Maybe if he goes to a camp where he has a friend or two it would be easier. I regret putting him in a different camp from his friends but ALL these kids were going to sports camp and that is not really Philip's cup of tea. I also wanted him to make friends with other kids. I am thinking, with another full year of school under his belt, he will discover more interests and perhaps I can find a camp better suited towards them? Maybe a theater themed or creative writing camp?
As for getting out of his comfort zone and meeting new people? He is 5 years old, he has plenty of time for that! We are planning on putting him in choir, robotics and swimming lessons (this may change, after all, he is 5 - he changes his mind more than he changes his underwear!)but he will always want to join an activity.
I seriously believe that by keeping him in day camp at this point would do more harm than good. I remember as a kid, summer time was for fun and imagination. It was not filled with worries or stress. He just finished his first year of school where he had problems with this other kid in his class. Let's give him time to breathe and just let him deal with one issue at a time! Let him play out his stress (I am sure one of the antagonists in his stories was named after that kid who gave him a hard time last year) and use his imagination before he goes back to school. The world needs more creative people and more introverts! If he were to be older, I would be more firm with him and encourage him to stay but he is still a little person. He just doesn't understand yet and that's fine.
Before I became a parent, I thought I knew it all. Even if kids came with a manual, it would never be guaranteed that you are doing the right thing. With this issue, I am going with my gutt. This is the right thing for now.