One of my fave new weekend routines, at least when I’m on The Planet Ann Arbor on the weekend, is walking down to the Farmer’s Market early on Saturday morning. I get a cappuccino at the Kerrytown Sweetwaters and find a seat (not a problem at 7:00 AM). Then I do the xword on my phone handheld computer and post banal little messages and photooos to Twitter and Facebook. And eavesdrop! This morning, the two middle-aged men a couple empty tables away finished up their conversation about U of M football with one of them suggesting he would be happy to coach for a few years for a few million dollars or whatever. At least he laughed. Maybe he knew the baggy old kayak woman was listening?

They were replaced by a couple of business-like younger women discussing what sounded like the administration of a sports camp. Soccer maybe? I couldn’t quite tell. They were kvetching a bit about some of the more clueless parents they’ve had to deal with.

Well, been there, done that. I remember those parents well from my years as the A2 Young Actors Guild (YAG) administrator. YAG runs a very popular two-week day camp every summer and, when I worked for that organization, I was responsible for most of the administrative stuff surrounding the camp. That meant dealing with the camp registration, which meant dealing with the parents. And they ran the gamut, oh boy oh boy. Parents of the oh-so-talented divas who were taking a “break” from their demanding “career” to join our “little” camp. Parents who enthusiastically signed their kids up only to pull them out at the last possible minute and demand a refund. Parents who would panic because they “forgot” that they were _______ on the day of the performances (fill in the blank with: taking their child to horse/music/soccer camp, rafting the Colorado River, flying to Paris, beaming up to Zephron III to visit grandma). Parents who were looking for yet another two weeks of daycare in between horse/music/soccer camp.

All of those stereotypical parents drove me equally nuts (we did have lots of wonderful parents too!) but the last kind also makes me sad. Because I can empathize with those folks. There are so many people who really do need to make arrangements for their children to be cared for while they both work all summer and, for school-age children, that can often mean a patchwork of camps of various description. There are kids who thrive on spending every minute of the summer going to camp. And that’s okay! We need those extroverts. And there are kids who are more tentative about summer camp. I was one of the latter and I think my kids were too. And I think that all kids need some free time. Time to run/bike the neighborhood, play *unsupervised* games with other kids, make cigar box troll houses, dam up streams, read books, watch TV (yes, really), fight with their siblings/cousins/friends/neighborhood bullies, play video games (yes, really). Swim and sunbathe a bit. Be bored (mooooooom, I don’t have anything to dooooooo)! And dreeeeeaaaammmmm…

Why do we all have to work so hard all the time? The GG and I were/are not rich by any stretch of the imagination but we have been just barely affluent enough that we managed to get through all of our child-raising years on less than two full-time salaries. That allowed our kids to be able to attend summer camps if they wanted to. Or not. It also allowed me to take my children to Fin Family Moominbeach for several weeks every summer, to run around on the beach and swim and play with their cousins and second cousins and grandparents, etc., etc. In other words, live within the “village” that the public schools are always trying to shove down our throats (but that would be a whole ‘nother blahg entry…).

Anyway. I wish it was easier for people to be able to provide for their children and also have time to enjoy them as they grow up. And that’s not even to mention that the process of having to patch a series of summer camps together is a first-world problem and, even in our so-called first-world country, many folks don’t have that luxury.

I have scratched the surface of several topics here but I haven’t even told you about what the YAG Summer Academy is all about and how much I love it and what it means to me. I zoned out on listening to the women with the sports camp. It sounded like one was handing a torch over to the other. The last conversation I eavesdropped on was at a different table with folks quite a bit older than yer favo-rite blahgger and it started with something like, “I sat behind my wife in high school and her dad owned the Washtenaw Dairy and I married her and now they won’t let me in there.” It was all in jest, of course. He also talked about a little room he had in the basement. Apparently, he can go down there and his wife won’t bother him. That is what the GG would call a “freak-out chamber”. Anyway, I walked back home and spent a relatively productive Saturday getting rid of a *few* things. More to go…

Good night, KW

P.S. Yes, I am playing with photography apps and stuff on my iPhone. It may be cheesy photography but it is FUN! And it is January in the Great COLD White North and I am gonna have fun!!! Darn it all!

2 Responses to “Eavesdropping”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I’m so happy to have been able to spend so much time with my girls. I teach in the same district where they went to school, so we had the same vacations. They didn’t always find it wonderful, but I think they now appreciate it.

  2. Pooh Says:

    I thought the photo was beautiful. Now you tell me it was apped*. “maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline…”

    *Oops, I made a verb from a noun, yuck. I guess I’ll have to turn myself in to the Grammar Police.