Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Very Real Struggles of Summer Camps

Summer is almost upon us. School is winding down. Parents are scrambling to find summer classes and courses and camps to entertain their children for the next three school-free months. Anything to avoid the dreaded “I’m bored!” The options through the Minneapolis Parks Department are really quite endless.
Karate, gymnastics, fishing, swimming. Arts, crafts, archery, soccer. Harry Potter camp, anyone? Video game design? Yoga? Chess? There really is something for any and every interest. Any and every kid.
Except mine, that is.
Late yesterday afternoon, as his siblings ran and chased and yelled and played at a local playground, and Nicky sat on a bench between me and Ruanita complaining of one bodily pain or another, I decided to broach the topic of summer camps with my youngest son.
“Your sister really wants to take karate,” I said. “You should take it with her.”
“No thank you,” he replied.
“No, really, Nicky. If you took karate, your sister would be there with you. You wouldn’t have to do anything by yourself. I know you don’t like doing things by yourself. What do you think?”
“No thank you.”
“Well…here’s the thing, Nicky. You’re not going to sit around the house playing video games all summer long. Your brother has choir. Your sister has soccer and probably karate. You need an activity this summer, too.”
“I don’t want to do karate.”
“Well, what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“What are you interested in? They have lots and lots of camps in Minneapolis we could sign you up for.”
Nicholas sat silently, methodically pulling the bark from a stick he had found while wandering aimlessly around the playground. He appeared deep in thought. Or perhaps he was simply ignoring me.
We sat as his sister begged him to come and play. (He replied with a polite, “No thank you.”)
We sat as his brother, towering over him, offered to swing him on the tire swing. (He replied with a cool and collected, “Swings make me dizzy.”)
We sat and sat and sat some more.
Eventually, Nicky’s little face lit up. He turned to me with a huge smile.
“I know what I want to do this summer!” he declared triumphantly.
Excited by the prospect of Nicky showing interest in any activity, I encouraged him with a wide smile of my own. “What is that, honey?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied, grinning wildly. “I think I would like whittling.”
“Whittling…like in carving sticks?”
“Yeah. Whittling.”
My son wants to whittle. His summer “sport” of choice is whittling. Harkening back to his Beverly Hillbillies-style Kentucky roots, the boy wants to whittle.
Who am I to argue?


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