I just wanted to let you all know that the nominations for Parent of the Year are no longer necessary and that I am, without dispute, the hands-down winner of that most dubious award.
Whatever dumb shit you did, said, or attempted in the Olympic marathon that is parenting will pale in comparison to what I did to my daughter this week.
I sent her to sleep away camp.
Oh sure, it’s good for her. It teachers her independence and bravery, forces her to make friends and try new things, and according to a new article published this week, will actually help her earn higher scores on her SATs.
Let me set the scene for you. My daughter refuses to open her bedroom windows. Ever. No matter the temperature, the weather forecast, and the time of year, she will not yield. If we open the windows while she is sleeping, she will most assuredly wake up and close them again. The sounds of nature are blocked at all costs. Not only does she have a fan to create white noise, but she also plays music all night long on top of it. As an infant in her crib, the very first thing she learned how to do was to smack her fat little foot into the music box attached to the slats to make it play. We could hear through the baby monitor every time she awoke because it was always followed by music. To this day, she has never slept without some form of music playing, whether it was a lullaby on repeat or Kidz Bop on her iPod.
The sound of the sea against the sand? The lake water lapping at the dock? Hates it. Rain pattering against the windows? Hates. It.
My daughter is deathly afraid of thunderstorms. She panics at the first sign of dark clouds and will start to cry at the first roll of thunder. If we are home, then she can stay relatively calm, but will opt to sleep under her brother’s bunk bed because she is worried about trees falling on her head. This is a kid who must see the weather report before any outdoor activity. In our house, our favorite weather people are spoken about as if they are our closest friends. “What did Adam [Joseph] say today?” Or, “What did JC [Severe Weather NJ] post?” I have multiple weather apps on my phone and when a storm approaches, my phone practically explodes with vibrations, noises, and alerts as multiple news outlets provide up-to-the moment updates on lightning strikes, rain levels, etc. We have found that knowing ahead of time helps her control her fear, because it allows her to control her location. Otherwise, she becomes the textbook example of a panic attack. Think I am exaggerating, feel free to ask any of my friends and family who have witnessed her losing her ever loving mind when a storm approaches.
How does this lead into my Parent of the Year award?
Because she spent her first night of camp out in the open while a thunderstorm raged around her.
I could not possibly have created a worse set of circumstances for her if I tried. When we took the tour of camp, and even when we dropped her off, the tent looked perfectly acceptable. Hot as hell, but I assumed there was some sort of flap that came up or down to allow air to enter. Well, I was right, in a way, in that the ENTIRE tent basically is lifted up and away so that the structure consists of nothing more than a ceiling, four poles, and a few beds covered in mosquito netting. Just going to sleep in that must have been an act of courage. The sounds of all those leaves, and animals, and wind must have been torture for her.
Then, in the middle of the night, when she had probably finally fallen into some sort of exhausted slumber, the first rumble of thunder hit. My daughter has superb hearing. Whisper the word “cookie” and she will come running from three rooms away. Say her name and she appears, like Voldemort, because she is desperately nosy and must always know what is being said about her. So trust me when I say that that when God knocked down a pin in his cosmic bowling game, my kid was wide awake. Out in the open. Surrounded by strangers. In the middle of a thunderstorm that she was not even aware was coming.
I’m honestly surprised I didn’t get a call at 4am asking us to come get her.
When the second storm moved in 18 hours later, at the end of what must have been a very long first day, my husband and I watched the radar like it was our job. Was it going to hit her location? Sadly, the answer was yes. This time, the girls were all safely ensconced in the dining hall having a dance party. But they still had to walk back to their tents afterward, the pathways all mud and puddles, the bugs out in full force, using flashlights and head lamps to light the way. To go to sleep in a stifling tent, with absolutely no air flow, with wet feet and pants bottoms, hoping that yet ANOTHER storm didn’t rear its ugly head.
And still no phone call.
See, the problem with the camps is that we can see her and contact her, but she can’t do the same to us. I can stalk her on camp Facebook page, which regularly posts pictures, and I can send her a daily e-mail that is printed out for her to read, but she cannot reply. I have no idea how she is holding up this week. I found out about the “floating tents” via Facebook. Did she enjoy getting chased by a counselor in a dragon costume? Or being blindfolded while she tried to untie a stuffed animal from a pole? Does she like making dragon snot? It’s all a mystery. I can follow what she is doing, but have no idea what she is thinking. The only thing I know is that she is still alive and even that is suspect since I haven’t seen her in any pictures since Wednesday.
She comes home today after another night of rain. Either she is cured of her fear or she will never go outside again. Regardless of which way the wind blows (as it were), I’m pretty sure her therapy bills for this week alone will rival those of her college tuition.
I’ll take my trophy now, thank you very much.