Monday, April 9, 2012

Day Camp (registration) Drama

Summer camp final celebration. Donostia.
Summer camp final celebration. Donostia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today is the day that online registration for summer day camps opens.  Specifically, 9am.  Last night I finalized my wishlist (first, second, third, and "Hail Mary pass" choices).  I updated my husband's account and complemented his wishlist with mine.  I've arranged my work schedule so that the first 15 minutes of the day are free and clear.  At 8:50am, I will load up the park district site, pull out my credit card, and begin my prayers of supplication. In other years when I was attempting to register two children in various programs, I also enlisted a supportive friend in pursuit of a supervised summer.

Now, to be clear, we don't have to go through this online rush. You can register in person as well.  A couple of years, I enrolled the boys in a nature camp through the park district that only used in person registration.  It was to start at 9am.  I felt silly and a little high strung when I woke up early on a Saturday to be one of the first in line and arrive at 7am.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that all the spots were full.  Looking up, I spotted the line of lawn chairs and parents wrapped in blankets sipping thermoses of "coffee".  It turned out that the first 20-30 people had actually arrived by 5am.  I frequently am in this position, where what feels extreme for me ends up being somewhere in the middle ground by other people's standards.

In lieu of  lawn chairs and camping out in the elements for a day camp slot, my husband and I  tackled the online system yet again.  We split the list of options since the gymnastics program that our son wanted to get into was broken down into 4 separate camps of two weeks each, hoping that he'd at least get some if not all of the offerings if we were on different computers and logging in separately.  It worked!  He's in the activities that he wanted and we have one more summer of at least semi-supervised fun for him.

Two thoughts came to me as I was waiting the 45 minutes for the computer to unfreeze (the site had a warning sign that a slow down would occur and if I budged from my seat, refreshed the browser, or logged out I would lose my queue in line).  The first thought, as I passed the time by working at my desk on other projects and compulsively looking up at the monitor was, "I'm really lucky that I am able to do this". How many parents went to work this morning as a laborer or saleswoman or nurse and couldn't take the time to watch for the clock to strike 9am and then obsessively stare at a crashed website?  I'm guessing that there is some strange disproportionate mix of children whose parents are office workers or unemployed who are making it into these summer programs. But then, if you're unemployed, you probably aren't prioritizing summer camp in your budget so it may very well just be a program for office workers' children. 

Anyway, my second thought was, "We do crazy things for our kids don't we?"  This morning was definitely in the category of,  Things I Do For Love or Things I Do To Keep My Sanity.  It's a hard call, giving my son a physical outlet this summer is as much about loving him as it is about my own mental health.  I probably would have even gotten up at the crack of dawn if I hadn't succeeded in the online system.  Sometimes we just know that doing a little bit of crazy is going to make all of the difference.  Today I'm grateful for the crazy things I do for my kids and the good fortune to be able to do them. 

What's the crazy that you're grateful for?
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