Camp Mom. Week One.

The Interrogator trots past me. I glance up from the chocolate chip pancakes that aren’t quite ready to be flipped. He’s bare chested, and his shorts are on backwards. I smile.

They’re the same shorts he wore to bed last night. The same pair he had on yesterday.

I flip the pancakes. I hear footsteps descending the stairs. It’s the Kenyan. I smell him before I see him.

Me: “Good morning, Kenyan! Please turn yourself around and march back up those stairs for a shower. It’s been…how many days since you’ve showered?”

He touches his fingers while his lips silently mouth the days of the week.  His eyes glaze over as he does the mental math.

Kenyan: “6 days, Mom. I had a shower 6 days ago.”

Yowza.

Me: “That’s kinda gross, buddy.”

Kenyan: “Ooooh! Are those chocolate chip pancakes?”

I nod and point my spatula toward the stairs…which lead to the shower…which is long overdue.

Kenyan: “Oooh, Mom, are we going to the pool today?”

Me: “Probably.”

Kenyan: “No need for a shower. You say it all the time. Swimming in the pool counts as bathing.”

He has me there.

CampMom

Me: “Fair enough.”

I check the pancakes. Almost done. As I walk the syrup to the table, I see the Verb in the corner. His back is to me. He thinks I can’t see him.

Me: “What do you have over there, Verb?”

He gasps…baffled that I’ve discovered him. I hear the crinkling of a plastic bag. He turns around to face me. His mouth is outlined in dark chocolate. He grasps a bag of semi-sweet morsels between his 3 year old hands, also covered in dark chocolate.

Verb: Placing the bag behind his back, “I’m not holding anything behind mine back, Mom,” he tells me with a smile in a sing-song voice.

What age do they start lying? I forget. Is this developmentally appropriate?

He runs past me into the kitchen to return the chocolate chips to their rightful place in the pantry.

Me: “Where’s Waldorf?”

Interrogator: “He’s asleep, Mom. Waldorf’s asleep. I know because I went into his room to get some Legos. And he didn’t yell at me because he was asleep.”

I glance at the clock. 8:47AM.

The Interrogator is wearing yesterday’s clothes. The Kenyan hasn’t bathed in 6 solid days. The Verb is eating chocolate before breakfast. Waldorf is sacked out in his bed. I’m making breakfast that requires more of me than pushing buttons on the microwave.

Summer is here. 4 kids. All of them home. No extracurricular activities.

Camp Mom is in session.

How was week one?

It was an adjustment. Here are some high points…and some not so high points…

I gave birth to 4 kids. Somehow, I manage to accumulate more kids on Tuesday. And it rains. And I am hell bent on going to Costco. I have 5 kids with me at the time. But I time it perfectly so that we zip through that puppy during lunch time. Turns out all of the kids love chicken cutlets. Bonus. I grant them permission to stand next to the sample cart and eat as many free samples of that bird as they can stomach. Yes, I remind them to chew with their mouths closed. I’m not raising cavemen. I hold up the bag, catch the eye of the lady doling out samples, give her a smile, an emphatic nod, a thumbs up, and make sure she watches me place it in my cart…while I abandon 3 kids next to her sample cart housing her bite size pieces. It works out perfectly. (Good news)

By the time we arrive home, I round up 2 more kids. 7 boys. Stupidity factor increases exponentially. Common sense at a dangerous low. We live in a split level house. The Legos are all the way upstairs, the costumes are one level upstairs, the Wii is downstairs. The boys are up the stairs, they are down the stairs. Up, down, up, down, up, down. While I unpack the products I purchased in bulk, I dodge boys rounding the corner down the steps into the kitchen. I sidestep boys rounding the corner up the steps out of the kitchen.

Me: “Guys, no running in the house please.”

Giggle, giggle, dodge, sidestep. Repeat. Giggle, giggle, dodge, sidestep. Repeat.

Me: Louder, “Guys, no running in the house please.”

Giggle, giggle, dodge, sidestep. Repeat. Giggle, giggle, dodge, sidestep. Repeat.

Me: Sigh. “GUYS, NO RUN..”

My 3rd warning is cut off as I am pinned against the piano. By a small child? Negative. By a large bear. Launched from the top of the steps.

I survive a bear attack. Original artwork by the Kenyan.

As I’m pinned under the bear, the guilty party flees the scene. A hit and run in my own home. The guilty party’s identity remains a mystery. (Bad news)

After crawling out from under the bear, I give all 7 boys a come to Jesus a choice:

“Legos upstairs or movie downstairs.”

They spend the remainder of the afternoon quietly playing. I spend it cooking. (Good news) Our indoor cat has a mad crush on me, so he keeps his eyes trained on me as he frolics around in the dining room. When I say frolics, I mean he really frolics. Dancing, prancing, up on his hind legs…I see him out of the corner of my eye while I cook. I assume he, like I, is jammin’ to Adam Levine.

Me: To the cat, “Fawkes, you got the moves like Jagger?”

I finally turn my full attention to him.

He does NOT have the moves like Jagger. He has a petrified chipmunk. On my dining room rug.

Our uninvited dinner guest

He’s been batting that nasty ass vermin around for a full hour while I, none the wiser, have been putting on my own Katy Perry concert in my kitchen. (Bad news)

I immediately perform the running man…double time. Very high knees.

Me: “Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, WALDORF!”

Waldorf arrives at my rescue within seconds, “WHAT? WHAT’S THE MATTER?!”

He follows my line of sight. Discovers the dead chipmunk. Looks at me. Looks back at the cat.

Waldorf: Smiling, “Yes! Way to go, Fawkes!” to me, “I’ll be right back.”

I continue my high step running man. My chant changes to, “Ew, ew, ew, ew, disease, disease, DISEASE!”

Waldorf returns less than a minute later with all 3 of his brothers. And a camera.

Verb, “Oh, he’s so cutey, cute!”

Interrogator: “Mom, can we keep him, Mom? Can he sleep in my bed, Mom? I can feed him. I’ll feed him. Can we please, please, pretty please keep him? Can I pet him, Mom?”

He reaches out to pet the dead chipmunk.

“NO!!!!” comes the chorus from Waldorf, the Kenyan, and me.

Waldorf: “Interrogator, don’t touch him! You’ll ruin my picture!”

What?!

Kenyan: “Interrogator, don’t touch him! Fawkes will scratch you!”

Huh?!

Me: “Interrogator, don’t touch him! You’ll get a disease!!”

The four of them turn to look at me. I can’t remember a time when 4 faces looked at me so blankly. Wait that’s not true…I see that look on their faces almost daily.

Me: “Everybody head downstairs please. Daddy will take care of this.”

I text B&B:

“Will you be home soon? There is a dead fucking chipmunk on the dining room floor, and I just vomited in my mouth.”

He replies:

“Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

I text him:

“I didn’t catch your ETA…”

He replies:

“5 minutes.”

I dry heave, shiver, and back into the kitchen. Shake my head. Shiver some more.

So, that was Tuesday.

Wednesday afternoon I have 6 boys again. And I get a long overdue haircut and color in my very own home while they do who the hell knows what sit quietly in the family room. The color is lighter than I usually go.

Me: “Kenyan, tell me the truth. What do you think of my hair?”

Kenyan: “The truth? I think it is the exact color of old person’s hair.” (Bad news)

Don’t ask a question unless you’re prepared to hear the answer.

But, week one of Camp Mom ends on a high note.

On Saturday, we take the kids to a local farm to pick fruit. My guys would eat their weight in fruit if I allowed them to…and the Verb does exactly that in the raspberry fields. It is a gorgeous day…sunny skies, low humidity…and I’m fairly sure the entire tri-state area is at the shore. So we have the place to ourselves.

Looking for strawberries

We return home in a fruit coma.  I’m the only one who suffers sunburn. (Good news)

Sunday is Father’s Day, my Dad’s 75th birthday, and the first time we see Little Sister, Flyboy, and their 3 kids since Thanksgiving. They bring their Arizona noise to the East Coast for most of the summer to avoid the 100+ degree heat of the desert. The grandkids serenade my Dad with You Are My Sunshine, When I’m 64, and You’ve Got a Friend in Me. Absolutely adorable. (Good news)

Monday is kinda cool. I receive an email from The Huffington Post saying they published my Father’s Day piece. (Very good news)  Ari Gold from Entourage right here…“BOOM!”  I am beyond excited that my piece makes the cut. Humbled, flattered, thrilled, stoked. Not to mention, it secures my position as the #1 child in Dad’s eyes (the best of the good news)…and, yes, I mention that to The Huffington Post when I email them to thank them for the opportunity. Oh, I most certainly do.

I spend Monday night with family at the Neil Diamond concert. 71 years old. Still performing. Voice sounds better than it has in a decade. And putting on the show of his life. Really, does it get any better?!

In the span of a week, I am violated by a stuffed animal, unknowingly host a dead chipmunk for cocktail hour, and am called a blue haired old lady by my son.

In the span of that same week, I spend a perfect day outdoors with B&B and the boys, am reunited with Little Sister, am serenaded by Neil Diamond, and am published in The Huffington Post.

Even Steven.

Maybe a little better than Even Steven.

Kinda kick ass all around.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment…

26 thoughts on “Camp Mom. Week One.

  1. Seriously? I die. Laughing my head off. I love that your cat is Fawkes. btw. And my son uses that line all the time, about the moves like Jagger. I wish we lived nearby. Dinner at Costco is an excellent strategy. xox

    • Lindsey, I’m looking into properties as far north as Maine because we are stuck in a sauna this week. So, don’t take Costco dinner off the table just yet. Thanks for reading!!

  2. Another great read – and every word is true! There is certainly not
    a boring day in your life in the near future!

    • Not a dull moment unless you and Dad offer to take the kids for a weekend…hint hint. Don’t worry, B&B has been neutered.

  3. LOVE! Definitely think Huffington, Little Sister’s arrival, and rocking it with Neil outweigh the chipmunk, bad hair and becoming your neighborhood romper room for boys only! And you definitely achieved favorite child status! I will be waiting for the next update from camp mom! Assuming we allndont melt in this freakin heat wave today!

    • I hear that, Em! I am at the track with the older 3 now…child abuse placing them in the shade while I log a few miles? Nah. We were still sitting in a playpen at their ages…with all the neighborhood kids.

  4. This is so funny. I have three girls, so yours is definitely a different world. My girls would be outraged if I didn’t bathe them every other day (princesses need to be clean, and they have toy mermaids in the bathtub, so…), and a dead chipmunk would turn into a funeral with tears and all. Congrats on your article with huffpost, and I hope you have lots of those special, picking-fruit moments to keep you sane this summer 🙂

    • Thanks, Cristin! It’s amazing how different girls are from boys. It’s been my experience that boys are, overall, disgusting creatures. Please cross your fingers that I make it to September all in one piece! Thanks for reading!!

  5. The dancing cat and the dead chipmunk! Awesome! Loved it, Bethany! Hope the summer brings your readers lots of smiles!

    • Thanks, Maryanne! It was gross. Truly gross. It’s not the first chipmunk who’s been in the house…but the last one was at least breathing. If there is one thing I know, it’s that my kids won’t disappoint my readers.

  6. It was hard to decide which part was my favorite, but I have to go with the cat and the chipmunk. I can’t believe that in your house even your cat is damn funny. Good thing school is out because someone might have wanted them it for show and tell. Can’t wait to see what happens in the coming weeks.,

    • The uninvited chipmunk was a definite standout for the week. The last time we had a chipmunk in the house (which I started writing about one day, but never finished), Fawkes tore the chipmunk’s tail off. I just found the tail in a sandwich bag when I cleaned out Waldorf’s schoolbag. So, I do believe you’re onto something…thanks for reading, Debbie!!

  7. I am the mother of 3 boys (not planning on another one, but who knows?) and I LOVE your posts. you are an amazing writer and great mom and i’m sure my boys would think you’re a “funner” mom than I am. And I was at Neil Diamond in Philly on Monday night too – awesomeness. except for the woman next to me who cried hysterically through the whole concert because she loves him so much 🙂

    • Ah, thank you so much!!! You are so sweet…my kids do NOT think I am fun. Mainly because B&B is so much more fun by comparison. “Awesomeness” is the perfect description of Neil’s performance! Except there was no need to do the ending of Sweet Caroline 3 times. WTF? I have to come clean…I cried during Hello Again. I feel like I should apologize to the couple sitting directly in front of me. My sister and I sang every word to every song at the tops of our lungs. And I probably spit the tiniest bit in their hair because I was singing so enthusiastically. Probably not what they signed up for when they bought their tickets.

      Thank you for reading…and for your amazing feedback…I truly appreciate it!!

  8. “I smell him before I see him.” LOL! My youngest used to sneak the semi-sweet chips, too. I learned to check the stock before assuming I could make cookies. Another great, uplifting post. 🙂 I love them all.

    • Dee, I often pretend I don’t even see my little guy sneaking the chips. He learned it from me. Some nights (after he is in bed), I have a glass (ok, 2 glasses) of red wine and a heaping fistful of semi sweet morsels. B&B looks at me and says, “That is disgusting.” I reply, “Good, at least now I don’t have to share.”

      Thanks so much for reading!!!

  9. Just found your blog and I love it!!!! Hilarious! A couple of things 1. Congrats on huffpost! 2. You must live in the de, pa, nj area if you saw Neil on Monday:) (I didn’t go but friends did and I’m bummed we missed it.) 3. My asshole cat killed a squirrel last year and I was scarred for life after I found her carrying it around like a damn toy.
    I will definitely be a regular follower of your blog now!!!

    • Katie, thanks so much for reading…I just checked yours out…we must have the same sense of humor because you’re hysterical! 1.) Thank you. Huffpost was an enormous honor for me. 2.) I live outside of Philadelphia…Neil was so freakin’ good. I sang the shit out of every one of his songs, much to the chagrin of the couple sitting in the row in front of me. 3.) My asshole cat knocked a bird’s nest out of a tree yesterday morning, and ATE THE BABY CHICKS! IN FRONT OF THE 4 YEAR OLD BOY WHO LIVES NEXT DOOR! His poor Dad came over to tell us. I. Was. Mortified. Filthy cat. Circle of life and all that…but I’m perfectly content to turn on National Geographic for the kids in lieu of watching it unfold in my backyard.

      I will be following you too! Thanks for reading and for your comments!!!

      • I live in Delaware (N. Wilmington Area). I knew you lived around philly also because of the reference to the Mummer’s and St. Paddy’s Day. My mom and her whole family are all irish and that is by far the most celebrated holiday around here:)
        Damn cats…they have no shame. Killing baby birds, that is not right! My neighbors’ boys shot my cat with a paintball gun a few years back. I was secretly happy…serves her right.
        And Neil is awesome. My oldest’s name is Caroline so she is a fan as well. Almost lost her shit when he was on the finale of American Idol:)
        I can’t wait to read more from you!!!

        • You lucky Delaware bastards…no tax on booze. I may or may not know that it’s 42 minutes from my door to Total Wine on Naaman’s Road.
          Hilarious about your cat getting hit with the paintball gun! The visual alone is comical!
          Love the name Caroline…although, for some reason, Neil sang the last verse of Sweet Caroline 3 times the other night. Too much. He could have squeezed another song in during the time it took to repeat it. My only complaint.
          We are also Fanilows. My Dad raised us on Neil, Abba, Air Supply, John Denver, and Barry Manilow.

  10. Awesome Bethany!! Such a great piece! Thank you also for validating not giving baths on pool days too- my mantra of the summer. You rock:)

    • Thanks, Michelle! We are taking fewer baths in the summer than we do during the school year. Lack of hygiene is taking the house by storm! Glad we are not alone!

  11. LOVE your blog! Love the Running Man/High Knees in response to dead vermin. Even more, I love that you use proper grammar (for example, you never mistakenly use “me” where “I” belongs). I know. I’m a grammar snob. But I appreciate your precision almost as much as your honest and hilarious take on raising a bunch of kids. Please write your blog forever. It makes such good reading for my nightly bottle, er, glass of wine.

    • Haha!! Thank you so much, Monica! I’m so happy you’re enjoying! If you can believe it, Fawkes had ANOTHER chipmunk in the house the other day…except this one was only playing dead. I made Waldorf rescue me…he picked it up with a long handled gardening shovel, and dumped it down the block. In the bushes of a couple we don’t like. Kidding. I am a nerdy lover of grammar…glad you are too! Thank you so much for reading!!!

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