In June, I planned my first ever Week Off Since Becoming a Mom. Or at least, five days straight of 9am-4pm Vacation.
Noah is finally old enough to go to our church’s fantabulous multiple award-winning summer day camp (where every week has a different theme and it’s complete kid wonderland and I’m a little jealous every morning when I drop them off), and therefore, I was going to have a week of bliss. Or more likely, a week of work and catching up on all the life that a million Hey Mommys a day keep me from getting done. Still blissful.
But then I got sick halfway through the week. And I spent an entire day chasing down x-rays. And just like that, multiple days of my First Week Off were robbed from me.
But Noah had such a good week at camp. Like really – it had some sort of magical effect on him. He’s introverted and too shy/embarrassed to do ANYTHING in large groups. To the point that he adamantly refuses to participate in Sunday School in any way. March around the walls of Jericho? No thanks. Pretend to walk on water? Not gonna happen. And he’s so introvert-fried after church that he won’t speak to anyone.
Based on proportions, I assumed that camp would leave him unable to speak for hours – after all, his slightly-less introverted big sister had always needed recovery time after camp. There’s a lot of kids and a lot of activities.
Every day, Noah got in the car bouncing off the ceiling and telling me about all the glory of camp.
And then, on Thursday of that week, he won Camper of the Day – for being wise and participating.
AND THEN, on Friday of that week, he won Camper of the Week(!!) – for being wise and participating.
I was so stunned in this sudden U-Turn in my son’s personality that I began reassessing my school choices for him.
Would he do better in a classroom? Or would a classroom be like Sunday School? What sort of magical spells does camp use to turn my son into a bubbly, agreeable, participating model student? Could I hire his camp counselors to teach him to read? And algebra?
Because he did so fantastic and my First Week Off got snatched from me, I decided to give them another week of camp later in the summer. I was due to try again for my vacation – ahem, I mean – to let my children have another glorious week of camp.
On their first week, the theme had been Build Camp – specialized around Minecraft and Lego, something my children are amply knowledgeable about. Ali dressed up as Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie, borrowing all the components of my previous Wyldstyle costumes and blowing me out of the water at how much better she was at the Wyldstyle attitude than I.
She won the costume contest, obviously.
Noah didn’t dress up that week because he didn’t want to go on stage. Participation has its limits, after all. But he was determined that he wanted to attempt this superior level of camp on the second week.
(And also we told him we wouldn’t buy him the costume he wanted unless he promised to go on stage. So there’s that.)
The second week we chose for them was Jedi Camp. They are not as knowledgeable about all things Star Wars – Chris had begun their Star Wars education earlier in the year, but hadn’t gotten very far yet. But he was determined to teach them everything they knew before camp began, so he combined the strategies of watching another movie and giving them cliff notes on everything they hadn’t gotten to yet.
“I had to tell them. I couldn’t let them go to Jedi camp not knowing that Anakin is Darth Vader.”
“Of course, honey.”
I didn’t care what he told them – I was just thrilled to retry an attempt at having my First Ever Whole Week Off Since Becoming a Mom.
I had caught up on a lot of work the last attempt, but this week filled up more with meetings and lunches and runs, but I had one Very Special Day planned. It would be Wednesday. It would be all day, requiring the use of an early and late camp pass for the kids.
I would be taking an epic adventure. It was to a stunning cave in North Alabama with unbelievable vistas that I was dying to photograph and explore. I recruited a couple of friends – Amanda the Frog Kisser and Not-Crazy Renee – even requiring that Renee get all day childcare. There would be no children getting lost in our caving adventures.
On Tuesday night, the kids were happily scrambling to make the last preparations to their costumes – Ali would be an unnamed but quite stylish Jedi, and Noah would become Darth Vader. I, meanwhile, was scrambling to complete my Epic Adventure Plan Details. They were hyper and giddy, I was happy and giddy.
We put them to bed early, as is the requirement to have enough energy during camp week. Everyone was fine. Everyone was happy.
Until 10pm, when Noah woke up crying. Chris and I looked at each other oddly. Our kids used to be wake-up-during-the-nighters, but it had been at least a year since that had happened. Chris hopped up the stairs and I listened as Noah’s wailing tale of woe drifted down the stairs.
“I had a bad dream about camp and Minecraft and Lincoln Logs!!!”
Chris calmed him and put him back to bed and came downstairs.
But then at 10:30, I heard the toilet flush. Which meant Noah hadn’t gone back to sleep.
This was when I began to suspect something else was afoot. Because Noah doesn’t sleep when he gets a fever. And I fretted.
I snuck into his room. And found that sneaking was not necessary as the kid was still wide awake. And emanating heat.
He rolled over and began talking maniacally. “I almost cried when I went to the bathroom because my neck hurt and it hurts to swallow. Hey Mommy, can you still think when you die?”
There’s not much more unsettling than your kid popping out with a death question when they’re running a 102 degree fever.
I gave Noah Tylenol, got him as comfortable as possible, and then texted my friends.
“I think Noah’s sick. I’m so so sorry. I will have to cancel our caving plans.”
Indeed. He woke up the next morning still feverish, and with every sign of strep throat. I broke the news to him as I was cuddling with him.
“Hey buddy. You’re sick. You’re not going to be able to go to camp today.”
His face crumpled into devastation. He began crying. Then he suddenly quit crying and said “I don’t think I feel like going anyway.”
We dropped Ali off at camp and then headed to the Pediatrician’s office.
“Well. It’s either Viral or Bacterial. I’m guessing viral.”
I really should have bet him money because I knew his guess was wrong. It was SO strep.
He left the room, came back, and said, ‘’Well how about that. It is strep!”
We received our shot and went home to spend the day binging cartoons.
Noah got off the couch after a couple of hours of quality Slugterra watching and asked to put on his Darth Vader costume and go outside for a minute.
And he just stood.
And loped around in full-on Depressed Darthness.
It might’ve been the saddest thing I had ever seen.
Good mom that I am, I photographed and posted his sadness on Facebook. Because it was adorable sadness, after all.
And because of that, that Wizard of Camp himself, Camp Director Jonathan, saw the pictures. And when Noah and I went to pick up Ali, Noah 120% asleep in the backseat…
Ali whispered to me, “Noah won.”
I whispered back. “Won what?”
“He won Best Costume on a Sick Kid. I have the medal for him.”
But she didn’t tell him when he woke up. She waited until we got home, where she found a gift bag and tissue paper and wrapped his medal for him into a glorious package. She brought it out on the porch for him to open.
And Depressed Darth was no more.
He was healed right then. It might’ve been the giant shot in his leg earlier that day, but it was probably the medal.
Later that night, I told Chris, “I think we were tricked. Noah didn’t want to go up on stage, so he licked some kid with strep, then didn’t have to go on stage, still got his Darth costume, and WON. If he’d have actually gone to camp, he would’ve never won. Did you see the pictures? Did you see how many identical Darths there were? We’ve been PLAYED.”
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.
The world will never know.
And as for me, I will try again next summer for my First Whole Week Off Since Becoming a Mom.