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Until I came to live in America, I never had any idea what a “summer camp” was. Apparently this is the mandatory thing to do every summer when the children are out from school and parents are still working. Kind of a place to leave the kids parked while we do something else.
Many parents send their children to summer camps because they are working and others just because they want to keep them occupied, but my impression is that in general kids don’t like them too much.
My oldest son is 13 and this is the first year we are sending him to a summer camp; well actually two. The first one was a total failure, he got sick right at the beginning of the week and I’m still wondering if it was his body reacting to avoid going.
The second one seems to be going well, since the subject is more related to what he likes, but I still think he prefers to stay at home. Actually we enrolled him just because the pediatrician suggested it was going to be good for him.
Anyway, my other three kids are not going anywhere this year. I can’t seem to understand the idea of keeping the children busy with guided activities when they can have fun on their own, or I should say, they NEED to learn to have fun on their own. Besides, summer camps are super expensive, around $400 per week for a whole day of activities, and if you multiply 400 x 4 children x 8 weeks = $12, 800… Errr… no, thanks! I prefer them to spend their time catching earth worms in the backyard to feed the fish, play in the water/mud, ride their bicycles/rollerblades, having tea parties with their dolls, etc.
Every now and then I take them to the ocean, the river, the local pool, the mountains and that is way cheaper and more entertaining.
The con is that I have to supervise and be with them ALL the time, which means I have practically no life during the summer, but isn’t that supposed to be my job as a mother?
Yes, I’m super tired, but I enjoy watching them having fun.
There are times though when things get quite out of hand. Like a couple of days ago when I had the not so brilliant idea to take my three younger ones to the local swimming pool and the lifeguards working there practically kicked me out of the premises.
No, it wasn’t that bad, but I think the teenagers got nervous with three little kids splashing like crazy. And if the children are black and the mother is white, it’s impossible not to attract attention in the almost empty pool of a white neighborhood. Besides, two of my children are not exactly quiet, they get excited easily and make a lot of noise and that is something some people can’t tolerate. Sometimes what seems a child in distress is actually a child having a lot of fun.
My new daughter for example has a lot of that energy very characteristic of Ethiopian children, that laughing to the top, jumping, running, and that combined with a new environment is explosive. She’s is not used to the rules and regulations of America.
And no, I can’t (and won’t) explain myself to anybody, so I chose to pack my things and leave.
I’m sure that many adoptive parents out there have experienced similar situations with their newly arrived children and it’s something that it’s almost impossible to avoid because you can’t keep your children locked at home.
My idea was to expose my new daughter gradually to the normal activities of a child in America, but I guess the swimming pool was too much for her (or for the Americans).
Of course she wasn’t frightened, stressed or anything like that. Actually she was so happy!! She is begging me to take her again, she loves the water and I think over time she will be a great swimmer… but, I don’t think it will be this summer and in this particular pool. Maybe she can take swimming lessons during the fall and winter and next summer things will be quieter…
And I said MAYBE because after three years and a half in the US, my son hasn’t calmed down a bit…

I have the perception that western societies can’t tolerate children being children anymore. 

Swimming in the river