This summer I didn't enroll the boys in any camps. There were a number of reasons: saving money, lots of out-of-town guests that seemed to make the calendar look full, swim lessons that (with 3 kids now) suddenly seemed to be a dire necessity, AND the fact that (knock on wood) Noah and Mattias play well together.
I mean that last part in all sincerity: I really can't imagine two brothers getting along better. Like any siblings, they have their moments, but mostly there's minimal referee-ing on my part. My biggest concerns tend to be the scale of the mess and lack of brains that their play can summon.
Last week, they made a "puddle" in our unfinished basement to drive their push toys through. The "puddle" was more like a pond, 10 feet in diameter, with toy car tire tracks splaying out from it in all directions by the time I discovered it. On Sunday, someone mistakenly stepped on a blueberry on the kitchen floor and laughed. Someone else thought it was a game to play. By the time I entered the kitchen, there were 20 odd smushed blueberries smeared around the kitchen floor.
So even though there's not a lot of fighting around here, I still wonder daily if I've made a big mistake by not sending them to camp. You know how there's always this group of people calling for kids to have more unscheduled time, more freedom to be bored? Well, at our house this summer, between unscheduled time and me (hands full with a newborn), we're REALLY getting the chance to see just what that looks like. And it's messy. Camp might have been a smart thing. At least a week here or there, so that I can legitimately scrub the floors. (The floors are always bad...)
Today I decided to give their creative play some direction and let them make chocolate chip cookies by themselves. Without me standing beside them, doing the work, as I'm normally prone to do. I stepped back. I sat on a stool and nursed Trixie. I dictated the instructions as they went...
"Mattias, take the paper off the butter and cut it in little pieces. Now, Noah, get the mixer." Pause. " Do you know what the mixer is?"
"Yes, Mommy!" Noah's tone indicating I'm asking a dumb question.
Al-righty then. Children who are able to bake cookies. We may not be swimming yet, we may not have clean floors (or a clean house!), but at least we'll be eating cookies.