Our kids have been at a YMCA daycare since they were 12 weeks and 6 weeks. Staying home was never an option, but I never worried about daycare. Whenever the discussion of staying at home or work comes up, people always say the same thing when I express my non-worried/daycare loving feelings. “Well, you have a good daycare.” Yes, we have a great daycare. No one wants to send their kid to a shitty-sub-par daycare. If you do your research anyone can find a good daycare. Yes, there are shitty daycares. You walk into one and you can feel it. You’d rather die than let your kid stay there. I know people mean well, but sometimes I find that statement insulting. Does any ask the SAHM, “Are you good at entertaining/educating/nurturing your kids? Mmm, maybe you shouldn’t even bother.” Probably not. And if so, they would be slapped. I love our daycare and was devastated when Cooper grew out of it. But the staff promised me that the YMCA summer camp would be amazing for him. I held my breath and waited for summer.
I went to the Orientation meeting and realized this wasn’t daycare. He’d be outside the entire summer. He’d be swimming two days a week. He’d need to apply his own sunscreen. He’d be with children up to the age of 12. He’d be riding a bus. I drove home a little shaken. Outside all the time? What about on super hot days? He can barely get into the water! Are they going to be next to him? How in the hell are his little arms supposed to rub lotion on his back? Come on! A 12 year old?! When it comes to my kids I don’t think I shake easily. I’m ok leaving them when necessary. I’m not overly concerned with filling their schedules with activities. I trust in the process of life that has worked for many generations. But I was worried. The Kindergarten transition was awful. And Cooper was already telling me that he was nervous about summer camp. Oh please let this go smoothly. I had no doubt once he got into the swing, he’d be fine. But the initial days were always difficult for him in any situation.
The day came and went with one long hug and no tears. I watched him wandering the camp while I pulled away. I hate watching that Wandering. I’ve seen it many times. I’ve done it. You feel out of place. Unsure of the unspoken rules. I can’t imagine what goes through a kid’s head while they wander. I said a silent prayer: Please find your place. Please be nice. Be nice to him. I waited until pick-up. When I got him, he couldn’t stop talking about the games and other activities. The next day, he won at dodge ball and told us every detail about his winning catch. When the counselor asked me the next day about his dodge ball victory, Coop beamed all over again. Our daycare was right once again. He flourished at summer camp. He’s full of funny tricks which I remember from childhood. He’s more versed in pop music than last Fall. He went from a non-swimmer to a kid that can handle himself in the water. His skin and hair have soaked in every bit of summer. The smirk in the picture above is a smile of confidence. It has taken up residence on his face and I doubt it’s leaving.
Do you have school age children? Look into your YMCA. Next summer, find a camp. You will not be disappointed. And don’t say, “Well you have a good Y.” That’s insulting. Everyone has a good YMCA. You just have to use it and trust that they know a thing or two. They knew how to entertain, teach, nurture my kid all summer long in ways that I never could. All summer, I remembered the conversation I had with my daycare directors at the end of the school year. “He will love summer camp and he’ll come out a new kid.” Again, they were right. Yes, we have an amazing daycare because they want what’s best for my kids. And I always trust their advice because of this fact. In the past it has been helping with potty-training or ways to handle Thrush. This time it was pointing me towards the best YMCA summer camp for my kid. Thanks again.