"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay." As we drove home she continued to ponder her indifference: "I think it would be kind of cool to be like one of those kids on Glee," she relayed. "But I guess I'm really just not that in to drama."
For my daughter, this kind of "okay-ness" isn't an anomaly. Tennis lessons have been okay. Pottery camp was no more than mildly enjoyable. Horse camp was fine -- except for the horse part.
None of my daughter's dispassion has been the fault of her coaches or counselors. We have been very fortunate to experience more than our fair share of top-notch youth programming in town. But after summers of trying sports camps, swim team, sailing and more, my daughter and her 14-year-old brother have yet to find an activity that really floats their boats.
Now don't get me wrong; it's not that they don't enjoy doing anything. It's more that their interests tend to fall in the camp of things that don't have a summer camp built around them.
My son, for instance, could play Xbox football 27/7 if I'd let him. But going outside to play real football in the park with his buddies? Not so much. So the deal we struck this summer was that if he signed up for a Shakespeare program that has him out of the house doing something (his mother feels is) engaging from 9 to noon everyday, I wouldn't nudge him about how he spends the afternoon. So far, it's working out okay. And who knows, maybe this mash-up of activities will inspire him to do something productive, like write a gridiron-influenced play. "Much Ado About Madden" certainly has a nice ring to it.
And, while based on this year's drama camp experience, it's unlikely she will become the next Meryl Streep, my daughter is not without discernible talent. She is truly gifted, I've discovered this summer, when it comes to polishing her own nails. I think she has given herself a different manicure and pedicure nearly every day this month. She painted ten little well executed flags on her fingers for Independence Day and is now sporting a Galaxy theme (glittery planets, moons and stars) on each of her toes. She is currently working on mastering a reverse French manicure with the same ferocity as an elite diver might work on her inward three and a half-- you could say she's a nail-art ninja.
Truth be told, though, it's not just my daughter who is envious of her friends who have found their passion. I, too, get subtle pangs of envy when I hear of yet another kid who has found their bliss doing something that seems to be practical and summer-camp worthy. So I asked my daughter on that ride home last week what she planned on doing for the rest of her summer, and every summer henceforth, since she hasn't yet stumbled upon a single program that she wants to sign up for again.
"Mom," she said, "maybe it's time for me to be done with camp. I can always go up and down University Avenue and see if any of the nail salons need a a junior intern."
You have to appreciate her pre-professional drive.
So whenever I scroll through my Facebook feed and feel that little green monster creeping up upon seeing another one of my friends' kid's well-deserved accomplishments, I'll need to remind myself that not every kid is destined to be a championship quality (non-video game) athlete or a singer, dancer or musician. Virtual football and expert manicure skills are talents in their own right. And hopefully someday they'll come up with a Mommy camp that can help train me to be "okay" with that.comments powered by Disqus
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.