Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Full House

Later this week, all of our kids will be finished camp and back home. I've waited for this moment all summer long and, now that it's imminent, I'm kind of dreading it for a few reasons:

First, you may recall that a couple of months ago, we packed two of our children up for camp and barely made it into the car with all their stuff. Curiously, our kids tend to lose a lot of stuff at camp but they tend to come home with bags that overflow even more than they did when they left. The math may not compute but the reality recurs year after year. As a result, we drive up to camp on the last day, filled with the terror of knowing that the car may well not be up to the task of bringing all of us and all the stuff home safely.

Next is that in addition to the duffel bags full of stuff they bring home, there is also profound sadness and attitude.The sadness generally manifests in the uncontrollable flow of tears and the repeated lament, "you just don't know how I feel. I love camp soooooo much. Only my camp friends know how I really feel". Everyone is entitled to own their camp experience and their sadness at facing its end. As you may recall, one of our daughters has spent the summer at a performing and creative arts day camp while her sisters have been holed up (emphasis on "hole") at a sleep-away camp in the Berkshires. Day camp ended this past Friday and, from the final bus trip home from camp this summer, I received the following text: "I was crying and will probably be in pain for the next couple of days so I'll be sad. :( I love u tho". A little bit of rejoicing followed what was meant to be an emotional outpouring because this text confirmed that our child has had an exceptionally good summer and she is sad to see it end. She also tried to manage our expectations via this text and who wouldn't appreciate a gesture like that? Sleep-away camp seems to turn these emotions up a notch, at least for some kids, like at least one of ours. We have come to accept that the drive back home on Thursday will be tearful. I can handle this kind of tears. Experience, though, tells me that after we get the whole gang home, the attitude (some would say "baditude") will rear its ugly head and dissolve much slower than the sadness. We have not always had to deal with baditude and there's certainly some small chance that we'll be able to avoid it this time but it's unlikely. Re-entry is tough and an attutude adjustment is sometimes necessary.

Finally, the end of camp means the end of summer is just around the corner. Unlike our kids, Jeff and I do not get summers off but there's something to be said for working during the slower pace of long, warm summer days. I'll miss the sun, the warmth and the easy pace at work.But you can be sure, I'll make the most of it before it comes to an end.

Your young adult might appreciate Sarah Dessen's That Summer.  This book was Sarah Dessen's first. Young readers may enjoy learning that the protagonist's name is Haven, which just so happens to be the name of actress Jessica Alba's new baby daughter. Is it possible that Jessica Alba is a Sarah Dessen fan? In any event, That Summer to the author herself "is mostly about Haven finding a way to feel comfortable in her skin'. Personally, I love the fact that the 15-year old female protagonist is neary 6 feet tall but that could be because I'm missing my nearly 6 feet tall 15-year old. Ask me how I'm feeling in a couple of days!

Younger readers may already be thinking about going back to school. Those who seem a little anxious might enjoy Lucy M. George's Back to School Tortoise, illustrated by Merel Eyckerman. We've all read our kids tons of books to help them get over the anxiety they may feel about going to or returning to school after a break but this one has a special twist at the end that's pretty precious!

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