After almost 22 years of parenting, the only thing that I know for sure is that I know nothing. Not one iota. The one guiding principle that I have not only for myself but with both of my kids is to never doubt our instincts, trust in the wisdom and knowledge that is inherent in our spirits and always be willing to stand in our own personal truth, no matter what.
Standing in our own truth means respect; respect for ourselves, respect for others and respecting our limits. Yet we live in a culture that sends a message that says we must do more, push, expand and frankly when it comes to our kids, I am sick and tired of it.
My seven year old daughter started summer day camp yesterday with high expectations; this was to be the first year that she would attend the local summer day camp put on by our local parks and recreation department and be with her friends rather than attending either the YMCA camp or private camp. I admit the cheaper price and closer proximity to home and work made it look especially attractive this year plus knowing that the girl child would be seeing school friends over the summer was an added bonus. However I ignored that slight gnawing in my belly for weeks when I realized that we would not be able to meet with the staff and tour the facility beforehand since the structure of the local camp program does not allow it. Uh oh…bright pink flag.
Fast forward to yesterday morning when we drop the girl off at the side of the local public school building with a staff that looked very efficient and a rule that said speak only to the red shirted folks as they are the ones in charge. I joked to the Man Unit “Red shirts…what is this Star Trek?” I spoke with one of the “directors” of this branch of the camp who answered some of my questions and admittedly I left feeling rather ambivalent but not wanting to say anything aloud thus having my view affect my daughter. I was too soon learn, she was forming her own opinions.
Pick up time came and that is when the shit hit the proverbial fan, my happy daughter had been replaced by a child who looked hot, feverish and was downright surly. After taking some time to decompress she revealed that most of the activities took place outside…on a day where the temperature was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. At one point the kids were all instructed to play kickball or else sit on the blacktop. The kiddo did not want to play and felt that she had no choice but to play despite feeling really hot and tired.
I won’t bore you with the play by play but in our world, respecting our limits and comfort level is a priority. However as I discovered this morning, apparently this type of pushing oneself is considered “team building and bonding”…really? We live in a culture where bullying has become epidemic, we teach our kids to stand up for themselves yet when they attempt to do that, being a team member is deemed of greater importance. So in essence kids are “bullied” and pressured to follow the pack and ignore their own instincts and even their bodily comforts. Not cool.
In the end it is clear now that I should have followed my own instincts and passed on this camp once I realized that we would be walking in blind with no previous knowledge. Though from the kiddo’s perspective this unfortunate experience may lead to the summer she really wants to have since our hastily cobbled together back up plans means more time with mom and dad as well as a visit to her old camp and time spent with her BFF.