The website said all kids had to either be 6 or have finished their first week of kindergarten. David has done neither, but I still thought he would have fun. And, of course, he could have gone to kinder this last year if we had let him. Besides, it's not like they are checking his school attendance records or that there is some essential piece of knowledge that all kinders learn that would be necessary to go to science museum camp. So 2 PreK programs, 3 months shy of 6, and having the big sister to help should be close enough, right?
Ah, maybe not.
He had a great time, as did Maria, but we did have some behavioral issues. For one, Maria reported that during Star Adventures Camp (the afternoon class) they were using fruits and other objects to stand in for the different planets in the solar system and David kept eating his. And smashing them. This has to be expected, right? You're giving him a blueberry, a strawberry, and a grape. The only thing he has ever done with blueberries, strawberries, and grapes during his entire life is eat them and/or smash them. Actually, the fact that he was eating them at all exceeds most of my parental expectations. You should see the floor under his side of our dining room table.
Planet smoothies aside, there was also this: when I picked them up on Tuesday, David's pocket was stuffed with something large and really heavy. He couldn't wait to show me what it was when we got to the car - a dixie cup full of big hex bolts. Like 30 of them.
David! Where did you get these from?
I found them on the picnic tables.
ON the picnic tables, just siting there, or ON the picnic tables, like you had to unscrew them?
Yeah, and then I picked up the whole board [hands raised over his head and with the same expression on his face as in the wallpaper on the video below]
Oh, OK... I'll take those, thank you. [pause] So, where are the teachers when you are exploring by the picnic tables?
I returned them the next morning, even though Maria's solution was to just let David bring a wrench with him and let him put them all back. Yeah, there's no way he gets to bring a wrench with him. He can do enough damage with just his fingers.
But the coup de grace occurred on Thursday afternoon, when I got this voicemail:
So that happened. It was one of those pit-in-the-stomach messages at first. I thought, "What is wrong with my kids? Why the hell are they so out of control? I never should have put David in the camp."
And then I listened to it again, and this time, I thought, "wait a minute--what would Mrs Ritchie or Emily have done?" Mrs. Ritchie was Maria's 1st and 2nd grade teacher, and mother of a 4-year-old. Emily is the closest thing we have to a nanny. She's had one of our kids in her class at day care since David was a year and a half old. And she's come over to watch the kids a few evenings a month. Somehow, I doubt that either would categorize the behavior as "They were caught stealing balloons." Caught stealing? It's not like my kids did a smash and grab from the museum balloon store. Come on, "Alli." Clearly there is a lack of supervision going on at the camp. Teacher leaves my kids alone in the room and they raided the balloon bag. I suspect Emily, or Mrs. Ritchie would have just told them to stop, put it back, and said they have to ask first.
Oh, and speaking of asking, when I asked Maria why she thought it would be ok to take the balloons, she said that the morning teacher had let them take 5 or 6 extras EVERY day, including that Thursday morning. When she said this, I remembered all of the balloons we had in our house. Maria and David made balloon faces and balloon flags to decorate for the World Cup game on Monday. David proudly showed off his balloon octopus on Tuesday. At the time, I wondered why he was making a balloon octopus in "Blow It Up" (the a.m. class) and "Star Adventures," but it was cute: one round balloon blown up with 8 long skinnys tied to it, deflated.
Of course, I can't say any of this to Maria and David. Instead, I did what my mom would have done. Time outs and forced apologies. "I don't care if you did already apologize, you're going to do it again! You both know better than to steal.... or at least take things without asking!" So there.
Now, there was a reference in the voicemail to general, cumulative disruptive behavior, and that's a problem. We'll have to work on that. And then there's the whole stuffing down her pants thing. When confronted with that, Maria, a bit dumbfounded, replied "I didn't have pockets, dad." Of course, where else would she think of putting it.
In all, I am glad David felt like a big kid, going to camp. And I am really happy that they are so tight. I don't think David left her side. When she went with her BFFs, she still came home each day with the bookmark moving in chunks. But with David, she didn't read at all. Next year, I'm letting him bring a wrench. And maybe a philips screw driver, too.