Final countdown to next summer

The highlight of 3B’s summer was computer camp. OK, maybe the second highlight, after our visit to Grammy’s. OK, maybe his third after his Harry Potter birthday party. Or fourth, after dive team…

Anyway, a highlight of 3B’s summer was computer camp. So much so that on the final day, he was already planning next summer’s session, which he wants to coordinate with his friends, so they can all attend at the same time.

To clarify, it wasn’t all code all the time, the camp is designed so that the kids spend half the day working on technology–which can be programming, robotics or…one other thing I forget–and the other half of the day playing sports or participating in extras. 3B like the coding fine, though I think it bummed him out that on Friday of the first week, the programming app crashed and took his code down in flames, leaving him to start all over again on Monday.

He was working with a partner, and their counselor said they were both dedicated, focused and worked hard, but there was no way they could redo everything from the first week. It was fun to see what they did create, however, and just as much fun to find out what songs his code counselor had introduced him to each day when I picked him up. He would rush into the car and say, “Dad, you have to search on Daft Hands, harder, better, faster.” Or, “Just type in MIDI 3D friends.” But none surpassed the first day when he asked if I knew the Final Countdown.

Dude. Don’t make me bust out my 80’s card on you.

3B’s code counselor played it as the final countdown to class, and it was fun to hear 3B earnestly wailing along with Europe, although I’m not looking forward to explaining the waving lighters in the video. Or some of the fashion choices we all made back then. Oy.

His favorite part of the camp was his extracurricular topic: drama. Given that Mama and I met while working in a theater, that’s shocking, right? The pig iron doesn’t fall far from the fly rail, apparently. It helped that their three skits included two musical numbers, one of which was a song from Mulan, which he saw recently for the first time, and since he’d seen it once, he, of course, had every song memorized already.

I remember the lesson 3B taught his kindergarten teacher, which she told us about at our first conference: don’t ever promise him anything, because he’ll never forget. Sure enough, that school’s counselor had promised him a game of Candyland in the first month of school and when he saw her again at the end of the year, the first words out of his mouth were, “You never played Candyland with me.”

Then he had to remind her of their conversation eight months before.

Similarly, he’s been busting my chops all week for breaking promises to him about all kinds of little things, asking how he can trust me when I keep breaking promises to him. I can’t wait for the teenage years. Just sayin’…there’s a cloud for every silver lining.

But he had a sunny expression on his face at the end of every day of camp–thanks to the balance of coding, creativity and craziness. Even though he chose an extracurricular topic, he still got to get his ya-yas out in the second half of the day during a “choice” period, when he could choose one of many sports to play. On the final day, in addition to seeing his code and his performance, I got to see one of the sports. I’ll just say that after watching the counselors keeping up with the kids, those counselors aren’t paid enough.

Speaking of not being paid enough and 3B’s future career as a musical theater performer or rock ‘n’ roll drummer reminds me of his performance on that final day. I thought it would just be for the 20 or so of us parents who showed up to watch the six kids on stage. No. After the parents were assembled in seats, they let in the rest of camp, which was 200 or so kids and counselors, all noisy and bouncing around. The size of the crowd, which settled down and was a quiet, attentive and respectful audience, never seemed to even register with 3B.

Stage fright? Au contraire. I think he’d been waiting for that moment all his life. I know that he’s already waiting for next summer, plotting and planning who he’ll go to camp with. And that’s endorsement enough for me to be doing the same.