‘Grandma Camp’ Is An Exciting Place For Kids

Deborah Welky


School has wound down and summer camp has yet to begin, so you know what that means — Grandma Camp!

The kids (and their parents) came over for dinner Sunday night and, the minute the dishes were done, the parents high-tailed it out to their car, laughing.

“Have fun!” they yelled to the children. Then they accelerated rather quickly and disappeared in a cloud of dust before I had time to reconsider.

Every year, my daughter approaches me cautiously in the spring, asking if I still want to take on this responsibility for the entire week before camp starts. And every year, I reassure her by saying, “I raised you, didn’t I? We’ll be fine.”

Then she raises one eyebrow at me and chews her lip for a while, debating the high cost of a real babysitter versus the undeniable love I have for her children.

I stand by quietly, knowing that “free love” will triumph in the end. (This “free love” is quite different from the “free love” we espoused in the 1960s, and it is, in fact, what brought many of us aging hippies to this point in the first place.)

But my daughter is wise to weigh her options. What I forget (and she does not) is that I am a year older — as are my knees, my eyes, my ears, my response time and my patience.

Regardless of her doubts, here we are at day one of Grandma Camp and everything is going swimmingly. This morning the kids got up, got dressed, helped me make pancakes, did a dance show, drew some signs for their room (No Parents Allowed!), got into the glitter glue, made an awesome mess with that, climbed onto the porch railing to peer in at some terrified baby birds in their nest, woke up grandpa, sorted a large package of Skittles by color, ate an inordinate amount of Skittles and settled in to watch The Jungle Book.

They’ve been up an hour.

In that hour, I have made coffee, pancakes, bacon and hash browns; done the dishes; buttoned an unrealistic number of buttons; tied four shoes; got out the colored paper and glitter glue; replaced every dried-up tube of glitter glue with an acceptable substitute; hunted down two paintbrushes; spelled “Allowed” a couple of times; re-tied everyone’s shoes; washed the glitter out of the brushes, my dishtowel and the kids’ hair; reassured a nest full of baby birds; calmed down grandpa; tracked down the missing Skittles (being silently sorted behind the sofa); and successfully navigated Netflix past all the entertaining shows that I will not be watching for a week to more kid-appropriate fare.

I must say that, even though Jen has her doubts, I am extremely qualified for the task at hand. I have a degree in early childhood education, 15 years of experience as a babysitter, 40 as a mom and 15 as a special events planner. In that time, I have been through fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, medical emergencies and — the most difficult of all — deciding who gets the last m&m. (Turns out, it’s me!)

So, based on this morning’s 12 activities, and assuming we are all awake for 12 hours a day, I only have 59 hours and 708 activities to go.

I feel tired.