Malkie Gordon Hirsch

By Malkie Gordon Hirsch Magence

When the summer months officially begin, many parents send their kids off to camp with important goals in mind. They’re lovingly referred to as the 3Ds, as in declutter, deep clean, and disinfect.

But first, before they get started, they need to make sure their kids get on that camp bus and stay there.

You’d think that was an easy task, and you’d think that being sent to a sleepaway camp was a privilege, but kids today managed to find a way to threaten their parents that they won’t be going for a variety of reasons.

Welcome to 2024.

My, how the tables have turned. Sure, there are kids like mine who forget we exist the minute they spot camp friends at the bus stop and then forget to say goodbye.

I’ve always preferred that kid over the one who’s an excitable hyper-maniac for a week leading up to camp, but as reality sets in, and he sees other kids eagerly ascending the bus and locating seats, he gets really quiet and won’t budge from your side.

And then suddenly, the waterworks begin.

“Wait, are you crying? Is that allergies? You don’t even like me—you said that on the way here,” you joke as you attempt to lighten the mood, hoping and praying like you never have before that he gets on that bus. Armed with a plastic storage container stuffed to the gills with his favorite junk food and the necessary bunkhouse furniture including a mini fridge, monogrammed blanket, rug, three chest drawer, and charcoal grill for late night snacks, you convince him that this is an experience he would not want to miss for the world.

The counselors corral the kids onto the bus for one last time and we stand by the bus, waving frantically as we wonder how long we need to stay put.

We scream: “Have a great time!”

“We’ll miss you!”

“Not really but that’s what we’re supposed to say!”

“Don’t call unless it’s for more canteen money or just to say Good Shabbos!”

Will others judge the ones who cut out early because they have places to go, things to do?

Probably.

Usually, it takes a day or two to get all the lists in order simply because finally being able to hear yourself think is a concept you haven’t had the luxury of experiencing since school let out a few weeks ago.

In the delicious, quiet absence of that ridiculous PlayStation game that was your home’s unofficial theme song, your mind is abuzz with possibilities of how to spend this time as productively as possible and not waste a precious minute of these moments procrastinating.

That is, after today.

Today will be all about procrastination, and then we’ll get started on our DIY home makeover first thing tomorrow. But first, silence.

The thing about this precious time clearing out your house that was quickly starting to resemble one of those hoarding reality shows is that you think the time the kids are away is sufficient to execute your wish list of goals.

Some of these goals include dusting every surface of the house, throwing out all the stuff from the kids’ rooms that they refuse to part with when they’re home, locating the junk drawer in their rooms and replacing it with socks, and becoming a world-class tennis player on the side.

In your delusional mind, there are all reasonable goals. That is, until your friend convinces you to blow off the day by shopping for expired spices you definitely don’t need at TJ Maxx.

That first week is so promising!

You’re still making dinners because you keep forgetting that the six-year-old can exist on macaroni and frozen nuggets. The weeks progress and just as you’ve become used to convincing yourself that ice cream with strawberries is a well-balanced dinner, they all come back and expect you to relearn how to operate the stovetop.

The daily walking logs happened twice before opting to sleep in for an additional hour and a bunch of those summer resolutions didn’t actually happen. You sat on the beach and did nothing for a few days, made a few more trips to TJ Maxx for old makeup in nearly-perfect packaging that cost $3.99.

You sat on your sofa and looked around the house that contains your noisy family and, dare I say, start to miss the sights and sounds that permeate these walls during every season but summer.

You breathe and give yourself a break and realize that you’re still that kid that’s now dressed in an adult body. That although we don’t get to attend camp or enjoy the summer in the same way we used to, maybe we too deserve a break from time to time. We don’t spend a lot of time resolving to be kind to ourselves, but in reality, being kind to oneself looks like getting the kids new beds, fixing up their room for when they come home, and clearing out the stash of Trader Joe “takis” so they’re not overrun with bugs.

Balance might seem largely illusive, but it’s always the healthiest way to go about getting things done.

You check some things off the list, do some things for yourself to remember that you too are a priority, and as the summer winds down, experience overwhelming gratitude for this time alone while looking forward to having the kids back home again.

 

Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, and a social media influencer.

 

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