A few days before my daughter leaves for sleepaway camp, I print out the suggested packing list. It is so extensive, it rivals Kate Middleton’s wardrobe requirements for a royal visit to a commonwealth.
I groan. I should have started earlier. But she has everything she needs — right?
Apparently my child made it through the school year on four pairs of underpants and three pairs of socks. OK, make that four pairs of socks, but only two of them are matching.
Four pairs of underwear? How is that possible? That makes me a Bad Mom.
No, they’re here somewhere! We just can’t find them.
We head to Target. There I compound my feelings of guilt and inadequacy by spending $150 on stuff I don’t need. This includes Fourth of July table runners (on sale!), frames that are the wrong size for the prints I have at home (oops), and a Michael Graves egg separator. (Why? And how did I wind up in the kitchen department?).
I buy the underwear and socks. I also purchase a pair of water shoes (they’re on the camp list!) that my child will never, ever wear. She is not yet aware that she despises these water shoes. That won’t happen until we have left the store and are several miles down Rockville Pike. Right now they are the greatest water shoes ever. She loves them so much! I’ve seen this syndrome before. I get them anyway. I have to. They’re on the list!
We get back in the car. I expound on keeping track of one’s belongings at camp. I am rather impressed. I can be so eloquent while delivering life lessons!
She is studying the passing Bethesda landscape and ignoring me.
She looks up. “Can I get a headlamp? They’re easier to read by.”
I sigh and turn the car toward Strosnider’s. We survive the Very Angry Parking Lot, buy a headlamp (the ones we own are with the missing socks and underpants), and head home.
We get out the packing list. A poncho in case it rains. Check. A fleece, in case it gets cold. Miracles can happen! Check!
Something to wear to a hoedown? I start to sputter. She remains calm. She heads upstairs, operates some heavy machinery to dig to the bottom of her closet, and excavates a bandana. She also discovers a couple of extra pairs of underwear.
We use a Sharpie pen to ID all of her belongings. After an hour, she goes to bed. While she is dreaming of friendship bracelets and campfire songs, I continue to work myself into an ID-frenzy. I go a little overboard and write her name on her shampoo and bug spray.
I look at the list again. The contents swim before my eyes. I must be tired.
I close the lid of the trunk. She’s ready.
And that’s all it takes to prepare for two weeks in a cabin.