“Just go in your underwear!”

“Just go in your underwear!”

I can still hear my grandmother’s voice. Clear, jolly and amused by our lack of ingenuity. No bathing suits? Just go in your underwear. In the early 80s, this was the answer to most water play dilemmas. Truth be told, it is still my first response when a child arrives at my home unprepared to be wet. I channel the woman who never lacked common sense.

A bathing suit isn’t a necessity. Plans aren’t a necessity. Dirt is necessary. The sprinkler is necessary.

My grandmother would place the sprinkler on her small, rectangular patch of Southern California front lawn. We would run until the wet was down to our bones.

There wasn’t anything as good as that feeling. Stringy hair in our eyes and pools of muddy water around our feet; pushing one foot down until you could only see your ankle.

My grandmother was inside doing…something. Or nothing. We never knew. Sometimes, sandwiches would magically appear.

We’d make elaborate mud pies with the tin plates she’d given up on. If you wanted to know which special event you were celebrating, you had to count the rocks on your pie. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8! Happy 8th Birthday!

Time moved like partially solidified honey and it was just as sweet.

At night, we’d run around the back porch, a blanket draped loosely over our backs and tied with those thin, red rubber bands all grandmothers kept in their junk drawer. We were still in our underwear; dried mud on our feet.

They had a few glasses of Wild Turkey on the rocks in the evenings. My grandmother’s leg resting on a small table. They would chat and laugh and observe. We were clearly their world, but, we weren’t their entire world.

We slept on the floor on carefully arranged couch cushions; the lilac air freshener doubling as “monster spray” protecting us as we slept.

At 6:00 a.m., I would hear her slippered feet in the hallway. At 6:15, the smell of her coffee entered the room before her. Folgers.

When my children tell me they hate the sprinkler, I wonder how it is possible that my deep love of those summers wasn’t transferred genetically.

“Don’t you want to hear about my summers with Grandma Marylee?”


I wonder how it is possible that my deep love of her wasn’t transferred genetically.

She would pass by my tousled hair peeking out from under a blanket on her way to the back porch; her coffee in hand, ” Are you up? Do you want to join me for coffee?”

After she drank her coffee, we’d start all over again.

“Grandma, I don’t have a bathing suit!”

“Just go in your underwear!”

Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder, Here I am at Camp Granada.

Summer is underway. Or, underfoot – like gophers, snakes and sewer lines. Summer conjures visions of swimming pools, s’mores and two of the most beautiful words to fall on this mother’s ears: Summer Camp.

Two of my plucky ducks are enrolled in one (glorious) week of summer camp. Coordinated drop-offs at 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.. Pick-ups at 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – Oh, pardon me, I was just doing the shopping cart and the sprinkler at the same time because, guess what? Two kids. Gone. ALL day. Summer camp isn’t just a fun-filled romp for the kids, it’s a silky smooth slice of sanity saver sprayed with sunscreen and wrapped in maccaroni art.

I was hell bent on sending the two older children to camp this year; even if I had to sell a kidney or my soul. All year, summer camp shone like a guiding beacon of hope and truth with the back lit faces of other mothers insisting on its necessity; guiding me as I pinched my pennies for the “Save Mom’s Sanity Summer Fund”. I pinched. I tucked away. I made some hard cuts. Like balancing a federal budget, I knew some of the luxuries had to go if I was going to make CampForce One fly. Months of drinking crappy store brand burnt beans. A little here. A little there. I turned wine into water and then took the money I normally use to buy wine and put it towards camp. Voila, a summer miracle.

Last night, the anticipation was palpable. One more day until summer camp. ONE MORE DAY! On my top secret countdown chart, I could finally make that last strike-through and pop open the bottle of cheap-ass bubbly. A week of 50% less children. A week of 50% less fighting over apple cores, mismatched socks and who flushed who’s waste down the toilet. A week of running errands without an unload and load procedure mimicking the evacuation of the Titanic. Summer Camp, they are your problem now.

As I settled in for my camp coma, I noticed the giant stacks of paperwork provided by camp administration:

“HI! Welcome to Summer Camp!” Ok, good start. I’m totally hooked. Where is this letter going? Somewhere exciting, I bet.

“We are so looking forward to playing with your children!” I’m glad someone is.

“Here’s a helpful list of what you should bring!” Whatever it is you need, camp…I’m gonna give it to you. I’m gonna give it to you good.

And, that is all it took. A little packing. A little penny pinching. A little hopin’ and wishin’ and dreamin’ and forced sobriety. Today, at 9:00 a.m., I became 50% less likely to be heard screaming, “STOP PUSHING YOUR SISTER’S FACE INTO HER YOGURT!” and 50% less likely to go produce postal in the local supermarket. “Glen, clean up in produce. The corn….the sweet, sweet corn. It’s. It’s everywhere. The horror!”

When I picked them up, they were pink cheeked; eyes half mast. The smell of sunscreen, chlorine, glue, bliss and exhaustion meltdown was in the air. I have made a good decision. But…OHHHHHH….those su-uhhhh-meeerrrrrr CAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAHHHHMPS (tell me more, tell me more-ohhh-ohhh-ore).

Long live Summer Camp. A grateful Mom Nation salutes you.

Camp Crystal Lake made me sign all sorts of crazy waivers. Weird.