Saturday, August 2, 2008

Her 19th Century Hysteric

Ah, summer camp --that pubescent, fetid pool where middle-class memories are made! Children and horses! There is campfire singing and mess hall eating. A parallel universe unfolds for a week, a world with its own rules, social hierarchies, politics and policies. A world free from parents, television and the dreaded Household Chore.

Fun! Arc the bow, pull the trigger and explore all things Outdoor, generally speaking.

Who wouldn't want to go?

Now, regular readers of this blog know exactly who: Scarlett.

But, hot damn if the Matron's generous sister (with no children of her own to suck away each last cent and spare brain cell) is paying for Stryker and Scarlett to attend YMCA Camp Olson, together. The Matron didn't even consider saying no! She dubbed the offer a no-brainer.

Here is the Matron completing her lengthy, thoughtfully constructed speech (she reread some Freud, Rank and Jung in the process) in which she introduces Scarlett to the concept of Camp. Mind you, she is at the end.

Matron: "And just in case the camp store, the horses, archery, jewelry making, swimming, new friends, clothes-we're-going-to-buy-for-you, boating, fishing and even acting isn't enough to make camp perfect -- like the most fun you've had in your entire life!---just in case you need more, not only will your big brother be going, but your best friend! Yes! Caitlin is going to camp with you! How's that! Your Mama made sure that your brother, his friend Josh who will watch over you like a hawk AND Caitlin will all accompany you to camp. Scarlett, you will have an entourage. Secret Service, at your finger tips! Okay?"


With that, she fell screaming to the floor, where she did a damn fine imitation of Regan in The Exorcist.

Yes, that went about as well as expected.

The Matron's only daughter is not a timid person. Indeed, when in a show at the Guthrie, her most pressing question was this: "How many people will watch me every night?"

Matron: "I think 800."

Scarlett: "That's all? Phooey."

But cast this child toward Nature, with its threats of dirt and discomfort . . . well, she becomes her mother's daughter. This is a child who understands bees as an individual insult from the heavens. Watch the sunset? Excuse me, is that her own face on the horizon? If not, never mind. Then there's weather. Scarlett cannot tolerate weather of any sort. Temperate summer day? She's dying, inside by the air conditioner, gulping and gasping. Rain? Might as well be a tornado. The thought of prancing about outside in weather, is enough to do her in.

The nail on the coffin? She is thrust into all this discomfort without her mother.


That subtle mantra started about ten days ago. Since then, every time the Matron sits down at her computer, her little barnacle wraps herself into the lap and says: "Watcha reading?"

Scarlett has occupied the parental bed for several days. Then there's the spectacular litany of ailments.

"Mama? My side hurts, here, right below a rib. That's a rib, right? It's a jabbing pain that happens only when I eat fruit. Should I see a doctor?"

"Mom? See this toe? Don't you think it's moving oddly? I can barely lift it. See how it wobbles? It doesn't really hurt, but I think it's not looking normal."

"Mom! Do I have a fever?"

"Mama. Do you see this strange dot on my wrist? Maybe I'm finally getting chicken pox. I think it's the chicken pox."

"Omigod, Mom! I have the worst headache! My whole head is practically exploding. Do we have ice packs?"

"Mama! Come into the bathroom, quick. I'm constipated and have diarrhea all at the same time!"

Camp. The Matron and her family pull out of home base about 8:30 am tomorrow. It's 10:09 pm. And Scarlett?

She is in her bedroom, putting the final touches on her Last Will and Testament.

Friends, the Matron wishes she were making this stuff up. Not tonight, unfortunately . . . pop! goes the wine cork.


Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Would you mind asking Scarlett to bequeath any costumes she might own to Laura? Many thanks.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I bet she ends up loving it.

Heather said...

My daughter was having all sorts of ailments today too. But she's not going to camp.

Although she did start school last week so maybe that's it.

Hope Scarlett feels better. (cough cough)

smalltownme said...

I feel her pain. I was sent away every summer to stay with my dad. I recently found a box of letters I sent to my mom over those summer... I love you, I miss you, you are the best mom ever. Embarassing schmaltz. I felt sad that I stopped loving her that much.

JCK said...

She will survive. And will, too. OY! Such drama off the stage. If it was a script no one would believe it.

Angie said...

As sorry as I feel for Scarlett? The joy I feel for you having only one child for awhile is overtaking my sorrow.

She'll come home and be so happy she went.....hopefully or you will never live it down.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It'll be good for her (and you!).

Karen Jensen said...

Oh, I so loved camp. And my mother? She ADORED it!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Scarlett and I are like *this*.

I've got something for you on my blog. xoxo

Jocelyn said...

I so much know this child, except it's my son in our house. He is eminently bribe-able, though, so when the opportunity came up for them to stay at my aunt and uncle's house these past days, and he protested even one night of sleeping over, I offered him one new STAR WARS action figure for each night he goes away. He's on Night 4 right now, and Mommy's a better person for it.

Tomorrow? A visit to Target, of course.

Anonymous said...

You're both going to have a great week. (just repeat that during the drive to camp)