Uncle Jack Kamp: Supplemental

uncle jack kamp copy

So I had this realization. Yesterday wasn’t all that physically demanding. Sure we ran around a bit, but it was nothing like adventure day with hiking and the ocean. Yet at the end of the afternoon, I was balls out tired. Am I really that old? Well, that’s likely part of it, but 45 isn’t really walker time by a long shot.

It’s part of the reason parents are always tired. Even when I’m sitting here at the computer, at rest to the eye of the beholder, my “engine is running.” A big part of me is paying attention. I’m listening for shouts, yells and screams, and its like the driver for a getaway car. I never turn off the engine and have my foot on the gas, waiting for the moment I need to burn rubber.

There’s a part of me like the getaway car, no less the driver. I’m ever vigilant in case an argument starts, a boy hurts himself and I need to administer first aid, in some way I need to suddenly turn into a super hero.

Caregivers never take off the cape.

It’s exhausting.

The question is whether I can take off the cape from time to time now that I know that I’m wearing it. Will I be able to chillax on the hyper-vigilance or is it endemic to childcare? I’ll let you know.

By the way, this phenomenon is something I’ve understood intellectually in talking to parents and in observing Ryan and Hope over the past two years. Experiencing it for myself is different. I’ve watched the boys before, but rarely more than a day or two at a time, so I’ve never before been immersed in is long enough to really have that “aha moment.”

And for any of you thinking, “See? Now you feel my pain.” No. I don’t. Neither do the millions of other people unable, for whatever reason, to have kids of their own. I feel amazingly grateful that I have this opportunity, at least for one summer, to experience this kind of exhaustion and to try to overcome it. It’s awesome!

For anyone complaining about the horrors of parenting (and I see comedians shared on Facebook all the time) I personally know at least a dozen folks who’d happily take that “problem” off your hands.

Uncle Jack Kamp: June 23, 2014

uncle jack kamp copy7:00 am Ugh. Awake before the alarm. Good news and bad. Today’s adventure will take us mythical Mt. Trashmore. No. Really. That’s its name. They piled metric tons of garbage in a hole next to a lake. Piled a ton of dirt on top of that, and now kids play there. Tune in tonight to see if any of us glow in the dark.

8:30 am A year ago, I’d take the boys to the Mt. Trashmore playscape and they’d sprint to it and run from the monkey bars to the climbing walls to the slides so fast that within half an hour I was dripping wet and panting. They still have fun but in a sort of, “Well, yeah, okay” sort of way. I guess they’re growing up. *sniff*

9:00 am On the other side of it, the bike/skate ramps here seem a *bit* too advanced for them. Byron’s face seemed pretty scared. Soooo… a little to old for the one. Not quite experienced enough for the other. It’s one of those awkward ages.

9:30 am A-a-a-nd the other skate park is closed for repairs. (Until June 30 for whom it may concern.) This playscape seems a bit more up their alley. A slidey bar thing they loved and a real tire swing (as opposed to the fake one at the other park.) Okay… they’re still kids!!

12:00 noon Lunch with cartoons. So. Um. Scripted cartoon pretending to be a spontaneous reality show like “Survivor.” *blink, blink* Um. Okay. Never mind. Lunch is over, time to hit the park again.

Uncle Jack Kamp: Day Five

uncle jack kamp copy7:15 Seriously contemplating purchase of an IV drip for caffeine that is timed to start fifteen minutes before my alarm rings. I consider trying to invent such a thing if it doesn’t exist.

8:30 am Frisbee golf! We play it “cooperative mode.” I’ve learned that using terms from video games makes ideas more palatable. “Cooperative mode” allows me to avoid fights over cheating, how many throws we’ve each made and general mayhem. It also means there is only one RFO (Randomly Flying Object) in the sky at one time.

9:00 am Random stranger offers to let us borrow his discs. I suspect they have been laced with crack, so I decline. He is rather adamant, I suspect now that rather than a crack dealer, he might be a disc salesman who hopes we’ll like his product so well we want to buy one of our own. Hm. Same thing, really.

I refrain from telling to to go f$$$ himself in front of the boys. I really don’t want three or more RFO’s in the air at once. Seriously. Is the phrase, “We’re perfectly happy playing exactly was we are, and don’t need any more discs, but thank you for offering,” difficult to understand? Apparently, I have slipped into Polish.

No, the idea that he might just be a friendly person never occurred to me.

9:30 am And we’re done. When you’re 9 years old, the shortest distance between two points is anywhere you go as long as you run top speed. All eighteen holes in an hour. Well, except for 12 which we never did find, and we couldn’t find eighteen either, so we just threw it at the nearest basket we could find. Which happened to be #7. But the boys had pretty much had enough of that game and it’s easier to say, “Hey, let’s call that 18 and we’re done.” Bazinga.

“Now we need to find somewhere to wash our hands and go to lunch.”

That was Byron, not me. I should probably find it disturbing that the 9-year-old is more fastidious than I.

And it’s only 9:30 am. But the guys really seem set on the idea that “lunch” follows frisbee golf. The possibility that there may be time between game and “lunch” does not appear to be an option.

9:45 am At Panera. Yes, they serve lunch all day, which is nice because the boys are set on mac and cheese, and I’m not sedated nearly enough to deal with  disappointment. I don’t know the Panera menu at all and I’m juggling a reckessly perky cashier, Blake and the large chocolately death bomb he’s picked up and must put back,  Byron who is explaining the importance of baguettes and the woman behind me in line who just stands there breathing like I’m taking too long.

So, okay, two-fer lunch special sounds good and cheap. I take the first item on each menu for the two-fer, only to realize that it’s two-fer but each item is priced separately. Then why the hell is it called two-fer? Holy crap. $$$ Whatever. Give me the blinky coaster and let me get away from the breathing woman.

10:15 am Weird man in fedora sits behind me and starts talking to the boys. They seem entertained, so I refrain from telling him to f$$$ himself.

10:20 am He won’t shut up. Seriously, am I wearing a sign today that says, “Hi, although I refrain from looking you in the eye and when you mutter your first word at me I glare at you with every ounce of feral strength I possess, by all means keep f-ing talking to us you infernal moron.”?

Apparently, being out in public with cute red-headed twin boys is an invitation to every wack job out there to start up a conversation. I begin to think it would be a good lesson in not talking to strangers if I scream like a howler monkey every time someone approaches. Perhaps pepper spray. Or a good kick in the nuts.

1:40 pm Quiet afternoon so far. The boys are entertaining themselves with videos and games and the occasional wrestling match that has rules based on some sort of unfathomable quantum mathematics. I am reminded of “Calvinball” from Calvin and Hobbes. Huh. Living with the boys makes that comic strip so much more meaningful.

Dare I rock the boat and suggest some sort of organized activity, or shall I let the sleeping beast lie? Tune in later to find out…

Uncle Jack Kamp: Day Three

uncle jack kamp copy Day Three: Adventure Day!

7:30 am I hate my alarm clock.

7:45 am Crap. I think I need to get up earlier for Adventure Days. I know, I know some of you wake up at the asscrack of dawn, but some of us worked second shift for 25 years and have a brain that won’t shut down until 1am. Where’s that darn energy drink?

8:00 am Hope dropped off. She packed lunch and stuff for the boys. Yay. Off to the state park.

8:30 am Park ranger took my five and handed it back to me, rather than giving me a dollar change. I could use this as a teaching experience in honesty for the boys…. or I could use it as a valuable lesson in paying attention when you’re doing your job. Sidebar lesson on the meaning of “justification.” Fiver will go for snacks after the beach.

9:00 am When you call the exercise stations on the nature trail “toys” or “miniplayscapes” and let the boys do whatever they want on them, they are much more likely to have fun working out.

Note to self: it’s been twenty-five years since I walked on railway rails. Sense of balance isn’t what it used to be. Sometime later am. We’ve hiked a mile. Boys still seem entertained. Should I test their self-awareness and let them walk until they expire, or help set boundaries and suggest we head back? Hm, when guinea pigs get annoyed, they squeal a lot. Boys are much the same. We head back.

10:30 am Boys ask to go to playscape in the park. We end up climbing the trees and completely ignoring the playscape. Awesome. Although, for 9-year-old boys, their “ick” boundary seems awfully low.

“Ew. What’s that?”

“Looks like tree sap. It’s fine.”

“Gross. I’m not climbing in that tree.”

“Seriously? Ew? Hold old are you?”

11:00 am Hit the beach! My sandals suck. Ouch. Hot sand. Damn sandals won’t stay on.

FUN!! I had never realized the number of jokes one can make about swimming noodles.

12:45 pm Hm. Boys are enthusiastic about staying longer. Once again, I am tempted to experiment on them to see if they know their own limitations. In theory, by the time they get completely sunstroked out and horrendously cranky, their parents should be home, so it won’t technically be my problem anymore. Except that Ryan knows where I sleep and payback, as they say, is a bitch. I choose to set limits and they seem fine with it.

2:00 pm Safe at home. No one seems overworked. Well, except maybe me. And I still need to teach Zumba tonight!

Uncle Jack Kamp: Day Two

uncle jack kamp copy

Day two of Uncle Jack Kamp

7:30 am Alarm wakes me up to start the day. I hate it. It should die.

8:00 am Crap. I fell back to sleep. Have the parents left? Have the boys eaten the dog? Wait. Ryan’s motorcycle is just now starting up. If I hurry, I may save the dog’s life.

8:10 am Dog is safe. Byron is watching videos of shark attacks. Hm. Coincidence?

9:00 am Since saving dog, all I’ve done is try to figure out how this damn blog thing works. Can’t get them to stream all on one page. People will have to click a button to see previous posts. Hm. People are way too lazy to do that. Meh.

If it was a video game, I’d ask the boys for help. I doubt they read blogs.

10:40 am Quiet morning so far. Blake’s watching Naruto (after a spat of killing insurgents.) Byron’s out in the hammock studying rocket science. “Why do they say it’s so hard? Seems pretty easy to me.”

3:45 pm Lunch happened. Hope came home early and we brought the boys to the pool where they bumped into several of their friends. Hm. I keep my distance because I know when I was a kid and parents/uncles/adults in general thought it was “cool” of them to play with us we hated it and wished they’d get sucked into a nearby black hole.

Afterwards I discuss the situation with the boys and they decide it would be acceptable for me to play with them and their friends as long as I don’t do anything embarrassing. “Embarassing” is temporarily defined as “hugging them and stuff” in front of their friends. They assure me we will revisit the definition as needed.

Uncle Jack Kamp


uncle jack kamp copy

Uncle Jack Kamp: Day one.

7:15 am. Woke up to confer with parents. Lunches premade and in frig. Nice. Definition of “healthy snack” determined. Nutella not included. Fibre bars, close enough in moderation. Telephones synchronized. (I need to remember I have a cell phone again. Take it with. Take it with.)

8:10am Parents gone. Checked on boys. They are still alive. So far so good.

Plans for the first day of vacation: let them chill. They had a very busy weekend and got rather cranky last night, so low stimulus day should help. Parental limit on electronics: 50/50 for today. (Or if they start to drive me crazy send them outside for a while.) It’s their first day off, let them do what they want. Okay. I can do this.

10:00am Boys still alive. No plans for world domination at this point.

10:30 am Definition of “death” negotiated. Apparently some deaths don’t count. “That was just stupid. It shouldn’t count.” Hm. Zombies?

12:30 pm The complexities of lunch and candy have been negotiated successfully. How to fairly share control of the TV caused a few bumps at first, but a casual, “I can always just turn it off,” de-escalated the situation.

1:30 pm Hammocks make excellent swings. Did not know that. When three hammocks are hung in trees in a triangle, the ability to change the speed of swing so as to avoid moving in sync is important. Fortunately, no one broke anything.

Dogs, for some inexplicable reason, don’t understand that a 200 pound human swinging at moderate velocity can cause injury if the dog walks directly up to the hammock. Koda has nailed his “What the hell you doin’ fool?” expression. Definition of “healthy snack” revisited.

To do: figure out how to record video game play for upload to Youtube so the boys can favor the world with their mad skillz.

2:30 pm The boys have retreated to the privacy of their lair. Hm, could be a good opportunity to mow the lawn. After receiving assurances that they won’t kill each other for the next half an hour, I leave them to their Youtube entertainment.

3:30 pm. Lawn mowed. Boys abided by their promise. Still breathing. Awesome.

3:35 pm. Hm. Ice cream truck just drove by. No sounds of screaming and joy. I should make sure I wasn’t premature with my last entry.

3:40 pm They have emerged to watch surrealist propaganda on the television. They call them cartoons, but I’m fairly certain this show could be a gateway drug to more serious hallucinogens.  The talking white ape thing with a bare chest and nipples is especially disturbing.

Definition of “healthy snack” revisited.

Quote of the day:

Boy: [To his brother.]  I’m gonna put my foot up your butt!

Me: You want your foot in his butt?

Boy: Well, no.

Me: All right then.

4:20 pm Mom has returned. Day one complete.