Diaper Diva has been stressing lately about where to send Ducky for summer camp. She just couldn’t decide — and there are so many choices (and they’re all so expensive).
As is often the case, she called Smartmom to meet for coffee at Sweet Melissa (Dumb Editor note: That is not a cheap plug for a fellow Brooklyn Paper columnist!), where they have most of their “there’s something I need to discuss with you” conversations.
Smartmom could tell that Diaper Diva had done her homework. She knew about all the camps in the area. She’d been online, read the mailers, and garnered a boatload of information from other parents, who were stressing about the very same thing.
“Scone-loving Mom is sending her daughter to Beth Elohim,” she said. “And Flirty Dad is sending his son to Park Explorers,” Diaper Diva told Smartmom.
The Diva was reeling with stories about what all the other kids are doing this summer. Buddha knows, she wanted the same for her daughter. It would be downright cruel to deprive Ducky of all that fun.
Would Ducky enjoy an arts camp? A drama camp? A traditional day camp with bug juice and lanyards? A daily trips camp? A tennis camp? A soccer camp?
The possibilities were limitless — but Diaper Diva’s budget is not. In these dark economic times, it’s not like money is growing on the trees in Prospect Park.
So Smartmom made a radical proposal: How about not sending Ducky to camp?
Diaper Diva looked like she might fall over. She was uncharacteristically speechless. Her face went pale, and Smartmom thinks she saw her head spin around. Twice. The Diva looked at Smartmom like she had just proposed sending Ducky to Fresh Kills landfill for the summer.
“What about the summer she’s entitled to?” Diaper Diva sputtered.
Since when does a 5-year-old have to go to summer day camp? Sure, Diaper Diva and Smartmom went to day camps. But back in the 1960s and ’70s, you didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford it. And the truth is, they didn’t even like Hudson Day Camp and used to write musicals, yes musicals, which they performed for their parents, about how much they hated that camp.
So who’s got the entitlement issues? Smartmom thinks it’s the parents. Truth is, it’s perfectly OK to not spend money you don’t have on some inflated sense of what summer has to be. The kids will survive. They really will. But will the parents?
If she’s unemployed, Diaper Diva might be around in July, and she and Ducky can do Camp Mom (as one friend of Smartmom calls it) and go to local pools, zoos, museums and parks. If the Diva is working, their wonderful babysitter can take Ducky.
There was an odd moment of truth between the sisters. Then Diaper Diva went in for the kill.
“What about you? You always sent Teen Spirit to day camp,” Diaper Diva asserted. Clearly, she was looking for a loophole in Smartmom’s idea.
It was true. But they sent him to the inexpensive Park Explorers, which he loved, for years and years. The Oh So Feisty One hated day camp from the get-go. And that was that.
People complain that kids these days feel so entitled, but isn’t it the parents who set that up? Isn’t it the parents who, in an effort to outdo their own childhoods, insist that their children have an action-packed life filled with 24/7 activities that cost lots of money?
Diaper Diva thought about it. And then she thought some more. It was a radical idea. It was also, she realized, liberating.
There was no reason that she had to do exactly what all the other parents are doing. Sure, it would be fun for Ducky to go to that camp in Staten Island (which costs upwards of $2,500), but maybe this just isn’t the summer to do it.
And the kids will be just fine swimming at the Red Hook pool, touring around Central Park, visiting the Museum of Natural History.
It’s the parents who feel deprived if they have to say no; that’s the toughest word in the English language — for the parents, not the kids, though.