It’s funny how you don’t really think your life can get upended even MORE when you’re a parent and then, inevitably, something comes along and puts you ass over teakettle. We knew that day was coming later this fall, when dd heads off to Kindergarten; in reality, it started already, since today is her first day at camp.
Naturally, it’s not like we’re packing her off for a few weeks in the Hamptons; she’s heading to a day camp that’s about 5 minutes away from the day care where she was a mainstay (and BGoC) for the last 5 years. Still, it’s a big adjustment. Drop-offs and pickups just got a bit more complicated, since we now have to drop her off before we drop off ds at day care, and then we have to pick her up before we get ds (the hours at the camp, even paying for before and after-care, still run shorter than those of our day care center). She also needs to eat breakfast before she goes to camp, since she won’t be fed when she gets there. As if mornings weren’t difficult enough…
Food is also one of those funny little problems. We’ve been getting off easily for the last half-decade. Ever since she was weaned off the bottle, her breakfast, lunch & snack were taken care of by day care. I consider it baked into the price (no pun intended). Also, given the price we’ve been paying, they had better be feeding the children. This stuff ain’t cheap. But now we have to make sure she’s fed before she goes, make sure she has something to nosh on in the morning and the afternoon, and pack her up with a lunch that’s peanut-free (no worries there; unlike her little brother, she has yet to embrace peanut butter as a food group). You can buy lunch for as little as $4/day, but we wanted to make it possible for her to make and take what she wants.
So, her little (new) soft-sided lunchbox currently has a half-sandwich with tuna salad, a small container packed to the gills with red grapes, and a baggie stuffed with red, yellow and orange peppers (all her choice). Her snacks are a vanilla chip granola bar and a 100 calorie pack of chocolate chip cookies. Because I’m paranoid, I’m also sending her with $10 – enough to purchase a meal if something happens to hers and still have a few bucks left over to raid the snack machine for snacks, too. I felt the hit this week, as our grocery bill went up by several dollars; I’m starting to get a sense of how much we will start to have to pay weekly once she goes off to school in September.
And my biggest worry isn’t even addressed yet: it’s whether or not she’ll be okay. Of course, she WILL be fine. Plenty of kids go to this camp every year, and we have several friends who are sending their kids (dd’s peer group, from prior years at day care). It’s just her introduction into the world of being a little fish in a big pond. And we won’t be there to hold her hand, give her a hug, provide “uppies”, or any of that other stuff. From 7pm – 5-something-pm, she’s very much on her own. I can only hope she makes a friend early on.
DH also noticed that ds was having issues falling asleep last night because he knew a separation was coming, too. For his entire life, he’s had his sister very close by; and, for all but the few months when he was at home right after birth, he’s been able to see her basically whenever he wanted (the teachers at day care were very good about giving them visiting time when they wanted or needed it). This is dress rehearsal time for the Fall, when he won’t see her from early morning until early evening. We’ve had to get used to this, but we’ve got oodles of practice, since she started day care on her 3mo birthday. He has yet to see what this is like, so this should be a challenging week for us all.
Ultimately, I think we’ll all be fine and I think dd will love being at camp. She’ll get tons of outside time (which she didn’t get at day care), she’ll be far more active, and she’ll be challenged in ways that she wasn’t by a structured environment where the structure didn’t vary dramatically year-to-year. We’ll all be fine. Right now, it feels like we’re staring over the edge of a cliff, but I’m sure we’ll all be fine.