I vividly recall from when I was a child, that the best thing about school was the absence of it. Recess was a slice of heaven, weekends were a much larger helping of heaven, and summer vacation was a really huge, metaphor-busting, serving of heaven. That was when I was a kid. Now that I'm a parent, with a job, and my kid is the one with summer vacation, it kind of sucks the ol' ass, as they say.
This coming June, ready or not, the San Francisco Unified School District school year will end. Many thousands of kids across this fine city will be in need of life-enriching-activities/beatings. As the parent of a kindergartner who can't seem to break into the elite sweatshop cliques, there really aren't very many options. I believe our realistic choices are:
1) Have me or my wife quit our job for the summer. This is what we in Bay Area refer to as grocery-limiting.
2) TVpalooza 2005! Whooooo!
3) Have my wife take her to her dot-com office. My daughter could spend her days playing foosball in the breakroom, or perhaps creating new relevancy algorithms for web page searches. We know she sucks at the former, but the latter is unproven territory.
I never went to camp as a kid, but I'm pretty sure it was all filled with dopey activities, song-singing, and squalid accomodations. Obviously I'm not an expert on the subject, but I think the various snippets of Meatballs that I've seen lend me some credibility here. I ooze ethos.
These days, at least here in San Francisco, kids camps are somewhat different. This morning, the wife, kid, and I visited a Camp Fair, designed to educate us about all our camp options this summer. They are many and varied. Each camp set up a table with some combination of brochures, candy, bunnies (both of the rabbit and booth variety), and TV. There were the day camps, which often specialized in a particular field like Shakespearean drama, and the more traditional 2-weeks-in-the-boonies camps, which featured rustic accomodations and activities including swimming, archery, and virginity-losing. We also saw booths advertising insanely expensive camps where you could send your kid to the Caribbean for weeks of scuba-diving, swimming with dolphins, and, presumably, burning $100 bills.
It was a bit overwhelming, but my wife bravely went from booth to booth, gamely gathering brochures, information, and hope for a tragedy-free summer. My daughter and I hunkered down in front of the table with bunnies (rabbit kind) and entertained ourselves there. She managed to surprise the bunnies by being more timid than them. Meanwhile, I chatted up some nearby mother. Working at home, and being all married and crap, doesn't give me many opportunities to date, so I took this rare opportunity to dazzle this female stranger with my conversational skills. Her son was there and was also smitten with the bunnies (rabbit kind). Naturally, conversation turned to the kids.
Lady: So, where does your daughter go to school?
Me: She goes to *name of decent San Francisco public school*. Where does your son go?
Lady: He goes to Nuevo in Hillsborough
Hillsborough is an absurdly affluent city here in the Bay Area. Nuevo is a very well-known and super nice school for gifted kids. I gave the woman a quick look up and down and it seemed like she might be well-off.
Me: Oh, I hear that place is a dump. (staring her down)
Lady: (meeting my stare and holding it for one second longer than was comfortable for me) Yes, yes it is.
Well, well, well, score one for the rich lady! She was totally unflustered by my comment. Conversation segued to the camps we had seen at the fair.
Me: I don't think my daughter is ready for one of these overnight camps.
Lady: My son isn't either. We saw a good performing arts day camp here though.
Me: Oh, the Shakespeare one?
Lady: No, that's for older kids. I think the kid has to be 7.
Me: Of course. Besides, we're much more interested in Chaucer camp.
Lady: Really?! (turning towards me, eyes wildly wondering if she's been out-snobbed)
Me: No! There's no Chaucer camp.
Lady: (nervous laughter). Oh, haha, we'll be right back.
She grabbed her kid and hustled away. Good bye, rich lady. I'll have to modify my approach if I'm going to land a sugar mistress. Next time, maybe less mocking and more groveling. Chicks dig the grovel.
But, camp! We found a few. My daughter can only hope for TVPalooza 2006