Not really a reference to the fact that I've been away from the blog for a month, more a hint as to why.
I could claim some tenuous french heritage and say that the month of August was just a holiday (my Nanna was born in France after all), but really, do the French still take a month off in the summer? Is that a bit like Americans assuming I stop everything to have a cup of tea and a crustless sandwich at 4pm? Chance would be a fine thing.
No, in actuality the American summer holiday kicked my arse. It was ten long weeks of patching together childcare and balancing very welcome guests. Lucy was mostly in her preschool over the summer, but Anna was thrown to the wolves in what the Americans like to call 'summer camps'.
I have a personal theory that summer camps are a training ground for the American psyche. Each year the local papers comes out with the list of camps available in town for the summer (well over a hundred) and you pick and choose like ordering from a very eclectic menu. Anna could have done theatre, surf camp, Spanish camp, Mandarin camp, Mandolin camp (OK maybe that's a stretch), but of course she mostly did tennis and swimming because in our household that is free. These camps vary in cost and popularity - there is a definite pecking order and the good ones fill up fast. Savvy Moms organize their broods into the same camps as friends to help with pick-up and drop-off, and also to help with camp cold-turkey. This is what I think is a trial of fire in terms of character building. Every week a different camp, every week a different set of kids to meet, introduce yourself to, bond with. For a shy child it can be brutal. I am constantly amazed how Anna has changed from a timid and clingy two year old to a six year old prepared to march in to a room of strangers and just get on with things. I would still find that draining. Perhaps it crushes more delicate flowers, but it has definitely given Anna a teflon self-confidence that I hadn't seen coming.
She has some great camp stories; came back muddy and wet from 'Natural History Museum camp' where they searched for pollywogs (tadpoles) in the creek, studied hissing cockroaches and made dodgy scientific crafts that are now littering her bedroom floor.
The best quote was about tennis camp though. Anna, tired, streaky and pink with sunscreen and sunburn - eyes red with chlorine and hair matted with a dozen swimming pool dunks - sighed and said "Momma, I don't fall in love often - but when I do, it's only with very special boys. I've only fallen in love three times this whole summer!"
You can't teach that.