Summer Camp Isn’t For Everyone

This is the pre-camp photo. The post-camp photo is a lot less cheery for one of us.

Over the Summer, both Justin and Garrett attended their first sleep-away camp. It lasted for two weeks and allowed GWE and I just enough time to leave town, get drunk while wine tasting, act like adults again, and then return to Los Angeles as if nothing happened. When we returned, we were met with multiple letters from both boys. Garrett was having the greatest experience of his life and was considering relocating to the woods of Sanger, California full time…at the age of 7. Justin had a different experience. He was not having a good time. He wanted to make it abundantly clear to us that he was having such a terrible time that he never wanted to go back to camp ever again.

Part of me wanted to yell at him and tell him that he better start having fun because this camp was f@#$&%g expensive! But, I decided to take a different route. I didn’t have the greatest camp experiences either when I was a kid. So, I sympathized with his situation and decided to send him this note instead:


Hi Justin –

I saw the letter you mailed home and I’m sorry to hear that you’re not having a good time. I want to tell you about my experiences at camp and give you some advice on what you should think about doing. You’ve got five days left and I think you can find a way to have a great experience there, but it takes a little bit of work and you have to be willing to do things that aren’t in your comfort zone.

Grandma and Papa sent me to a four-week, sleep-away camp starting at your age. I had a miserable experience. I had a very hard time making a connection with anyone. It felt like most of the kids already knew each other or they had more in common with each other than I did. To make matters worse, my cousins were at the same camp. I think it was Grandma and Papa’s hope that (at the very least) my cousins would be friends with me and show me around. They did not. They completely ignored me. I spent the first year alone and I hated every minute of it.

And, it was hot. If you think California is hot, you haven’t felt the humidity of a HOT Georgia Summer. It was so hot on the first year that we couldn’t do any of the lake activities because they lake had dried out. You could walk out on the dock, but it was 10 feet above dry soil. Half the camp’s activities were supposed to be on the lake. But that year, there was no swimming, canoeing, fishing, etc. (Somehow the lake dried up, but Poo Pond was always full. I never understood that.)

Yes, there were activities that I didn’t want to do and thought they were beneath me. I didn’t want to sing songs and I didn’t want to dance around and I really, really hated “Color Wars.” (If they don’t do that, I’ll explain it to you later.) I disliked anything that required running or getting dirty. Just like you, I loved everything tech…and there was little to none of it at camp.

If you ask Grandma, I’m sure she remembers me sending her a note that basically said, “If you loved me, you’d get me out of here.” I’m sure she wasn’t thrilled to get it and she did not come to get me. I felt like I was alone in a place that I didn’t want to be. I was stuck.

That may have been the moment that I realized, it wasn’t up to anyone else to provide me with a good time…or provide me with friends…or make sure I was having a good experience. The truth is, it was completely up to me. So, I’m imparting this (hard-earned) wisdom onto you: Your experiences in camp (and in life) are entirely up to you. If you don’t want to participate and you don’t want to have a good time, you don’t have to. But, if you give a shit 😊 (like I tell you in golf), you may be surprised by the wonderful experiences you end up having by accident.

As I often tell writers, “Bad Decisions lead to Good Stories.” Don’t think going down the waterslide is a good idea? Try doing it anyway. You may get a good story out of it. Don’t think that trying the ropes course seems safe? Try it…you will definitely have a good story. Don’t want to ride the ATV? A good crash will always lead to a good story. Don’t want to fish? Go fishing…and then tell everyone about how the BIG one got away. Good stories and weird experiences are the things that help us create friendships. “You think you had a weird experience on the lake, let me tell you about mine….”

When it came to camp, I made 1 friend. His name was Shlomo. I’m not kidding. He was an exchange student from Israel. He was a weird kid, but my kind of weird. And, then we met a kid named Billy Mitchell. He, too, was weird. He wasn’t Jewish, but his parents sent him to a Jewish camp anyway. And finally, there was “Ice” – the only African American kid in an entirely Jewish camp. Slowly, and by participating, I found friends and we were weird together.

Buddy – it’s up to you. I’m glad you love your art, but it’s sometimes hard to make friends with your nose buried in your sketchbook.

Please try to have a good time. Do something new, something you’ve never done before. And, when you come home, you can tell me how your bad decision led to a great story.

Love you,


You’ve Got A Friend in Me

Who wouldn’t want to be friends with this guy?!?!?!?!

Garrett came home from camp in a foul mood. I heard him stomp through the front door, turn the corner, march into his room, and slam the door shut. I decided to give him a few minutes to calm down before approaching him. After about 30 minutes, I found him sitting on the sofa and gently asked, “Hey buddy. How was camp today?”

“Terrible,” he replied.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I inquired

He let out a long, audible breath and looked at me. “Fine. I had a terrible day because I asked ‘Sarah’ (not her real name) if she would be my best friend at camp and she said yes.” Confused, I replied, “Isn’t that a good thing?”

He continued, “…but then, her friend whispered in her ear and then she told me that she didn’t want to be my friend anymore.”

“Oh. I see. I’m sorry to hear that.” For a moment, we both sat in silence. He had vented and I was trying to determine what to do with the information. I could have gone with the theory of “Boys Rule, Girls Drool,” but that only goes so far. Ultimately, I chose honesty.

“Well, Garrett. Sometimes boys and girls (and grown men and women) like each other, but their friends get in the way.  If you like someone and want to be friends, you should tell them and don’t worry what their friends say. I’m sure it made Sarah feel good to know that you wanted to be her friend.” I suggested he try playing with her again the next day. If she wasn’t interested, that’s OK too.

He seemed satisfied with the answer and refocused on the video game he was playing. Garrett is clearly going to be OK. It’s Sarah’s loss…and Sarah’s friend will eventually be shunned by her friends because of her terrible judgement and gossipy ways. She will then grow old alone, spending her nights eating single-serving frozen dinners, and living with her 40 cats who will ultimately eat her face off when she runs out of cat food. (Is that too harsh? Not when you reject my son, it’s not.)


Parent in the Sky vs. PJ Masks


(Note: This was written on Thursday morning, November 12th at 1:22am.)

You know you’re a decent “parent in the sky” when you fly across the country with your child and he/she decides to sing the “PJ Masks” theme song for four hours straight…and you let them live.

While on the way to Washington DC, Garrett sat next to me and vibrated with excitement about being on his first plane all the while singing “PJ Masks.” But, not the whole theme song….just the first two lyrics. FOUR….HOURS….STRAIGHT……

Who goes into the night

So they can save the day?

Who are these heroes

To show you the way?

PJ Masks

PJ Masks

PJ Masks

PJ Masks

It’s now 1:22am EST and I would like to go to sleep, but I can’t because all I hear is this stupid song in my head over and over and over.

The Night Terrors

Wormie 1

“I’m Gonna Get You!!”

It’s not unusual to get a visit from Garrett in the middle of the night. We’re still going through the crib-to-bed transition and he’s getting used to it. However, sometimes we will wake up at 3am to the sounds of “Mommy? Daddy? I need you.” And then one of us draws straws to see who it will be. (Conveniently, I fall asleep in the middle of our debate, so GWE ends up going into his room.)

Tuesday night was different. After putting the kids to bed, GWE and I crashed early knowing that we were in for a crazy few days with the kids due to the holidays. At 3:00am, Garrett began calling for us. Well….not exactly calling for us…more like screaming bloody murder with a “mommy” and “daddy” mixed in for effect. I was the first one down the hall, but GWE somehow slipped past me and got there first. I figured one parent was enough, so I turned around and headed back to bed.

As I got back to my room, I could continue to hear Garrett screaming. I heard, “NO!” and “I WANT TO LEAVE” and finally, “I WANT TO GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!” With that, GWE hauled ass back into our bedroom with Garrett in tow. He was really rattled by something.

We got him into our bed and he was burning up with a fever. He was crying and screaming about something and it took a few minutes for us to calm him down to the point where he could tell us what was wrong.

In between the sobs, we saw him repeatedly try to push something away (that wasn’t there) and finally heard him say, “There are wormies on me!! Get the wormies off!!! I don’t want the wormies to get me!!!!” GWE and I tried to calm him with “There are no wormies buddy. You’re ok,” but the truth was we were looking at each other and trying not to panic. GWE said, “I think he’s so hot that he’s hallucinating.” It seemed like a logical assessment.

Every few minutes he would fall back asleep only to jolt awake again screaming about the “wormies” that were trying to get him. I attempted to calm him while GWE looked online for any information as to what was going on. What she found was “Night Terrors” (or as we’ve renamed it “Scare the Living Shit Out of Parents Syndrome.”)

Garrett had all of the signs of Night Terrors:

1) Occurs during the first part of sleep

2) Typically, occurs in children 3-6, but only in 1-6% of the population. (Hey – he’s an elitist!)

3) Patients tend to “bold upright” with their eyes wide open in a panic

4) Patients appear confused, disoriented, elevated heart rate, sweating, etc.

5) Patient appears to be awake, but they are still “technically” asleep. (Garrett was calling for us while we were right in front of him, but he never saw us. His pupils were wide open. He was there, but “no one was home.”)

6) Patient will not remember the event in the morning. (Although it will clearly haunt the parents for the rest of their lives!)

For the rest of the evening, Garrett stayed in our bed cradled between us. Every once in awhile he would thrash or kick in the middle of the night, but nothing was so startling as when the Night Terror began.

As things began to calm down, GWE made a very funny observation: “Leave it to Garrett to be afraid of the cutest, least harmful thing out there. Wormies!”

Wormie 2

WAIT…DON’T DO THA- (Nevermind)


FoodAnother moment when you want to smack yourself in the head due to the actions of your children: Justin lowered his car window this morning to throw out his gum. As he threw it, I yelled, ‘Wait!’ It was too late…his gum had hit the car next to us and was now stuck to the other driver’s window. The driver passed me while giving me the finger. (Fair enough.)