Mabel is at camp this week. Dash is not. The reason for this is that when I got her to say “Okay, I’ll do camp” and pick the gymnastics camp that Dash went to two years ago, I jumped on it and signed her up immediately. I was hoping that Dash would come around and decide to do it too. He never did.
This means that I feel as if Mabel thinks we’re packing her off to the labour camps of Siberia every day while he and I do fun and exciting things together. (I don’t know if she really thinks this, as I don’t want to put the notion in her head if it’s not there already.) Which gives me camp guilt.
She was brave the first day at drop off and seemed to have a great time, but by the next morning she didn’t want to go very much. Wednesday morning was the nadir, of course, and I had to leave her crying and promise I’d go back and get her if they called me to say she was still miserable by lunchtime. She wasn’t, they didn’t, they say she’s perfectly happy and doing fine. Dash and I are doing boring things like going grocery shopping and to the mall and to museums Mabel wouldn’t enjoy together, and not talking much about what we’ve done; but it’s still time together that she’s probably jealous of.
Which all means that re-entry into family life every day after camp is tricky and usually involves a lot of screaming and pinching and being horrible. I don’t want to reward this behaviour, but I do understand that it’s hard being so calm and well balanced all day in a new environment. And it just so happened that a friend was getting rid of a huge and lovely dollhouse and I knew I’d regret it if I let it go to someone else, so Mabel just happened to get a huge and lovely new dollhouse (slightly rain-damaged) in the middle of this week of so much good/bad behaviour. I don’t know what message this is sending. I’m probably doing it wrong.
Additionally, she absolutely cannot/will not fall asleep before ten every night, even though she’s tired out from the gymnastics. She sleeps till 7.30 or a little later with no wakeups (thank the Lord) but she’s clearly still building up a deficit, which leaves her with no extra resources for being nice to people she’s related to because she’s used them all up being reasonably polite to strangers.
(Meanwhile, Dash and I went to the National Archives, which was a museum I thought Mabel would hate. It turns out that as well as the original documents of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, they have a couple of great and fascinating exhibits about all the things the archives keeps – ship’s records of immigrants and film reels and wax cylinder recordings and all the patents and photos and letters and all sorts. If you’re in DC and you’ve not gone because it sounds a bit dry compared to the more exciting museums, don’t miss it.)
I wrote that yesterday. Today was the end-of-week camp performance. Mabel was a little nervous about it because she doesn’t like the limelight. I had visions of her refusing to come out in front of the waiting parents, or bursting into tears at the sight of us, since our existence is so hard to reconcile with the camp version of herself. But she was fine. Of course she was fine. Actually I might soon rename this whole blog “Of course they were fine” because of course they always are.
She had fun. She’s not the next Olympic gymnast, but she had a good time and I think deep down inside she’s proud of herself for doing a week of camp. Best of all, Dash was so inspired (aka jealous) of all the fun the campers were obviously having during their performance that he let me sign him up for next week. Admittedly, I’d have preferred him to come to this epiphany the week before his sister did the camp too, but I suppose it’ll be nice for Mabel to have a “Mommy and Me” week too. And it assuages my teeny tiny camp guilt quite nicely.