My mom went to visit my brother and his family at their summer home in Westhampton, New York this past weekend. (No fears, this is not going to be the first issue of “what I did during my summer vacation”). As my mom informed me, East Hampton is where the “movie people are” about an hour away from my brother’s home.
My mom (aka Grammy) enjoyed the beautiful beach on the west side until Sunday afternoon. My five-year-old niece had been invited to a birthday party of one of her little friends whose daddy happens to be a movie actor that we have all seen. My brother’s whole family, Grammy included, piled into the family SUV and drove to the site of the East Hampton birthday party.
As they arrived, said father (the actor) of the birthday girl was heading to the store to pick up some more wine; following a warm greeting he told my family to go on in to the party. There were several families already in attendance , some no-names and several other actors that we would all recognize. Grammy reported that it was a simple home; the kids were all playing in the backyard while the adults snacked on prepared salads and chicken from the local grocer. It wasn’t over the top or crazy fancy, it was the kind of party any of us would have in our own backyard. She also noted that everyone, actresses included, were dressed in shorts and tee shirts, bare faced and pony tails without any red carpet make-up or gowns.
While my brother and his wife ran after their kids, Grammy mingled with some of the other adults. She watched one actor argue with his six-year-old over what to eat; apparently he didn’t like the chicken nor did he hesitate to make his opinion known. She then found herself joined in conversation with that actor and another actress (a beautiful woman that we have all seen). They were discussing that they used the same contractor for their homes in California and had many mutual friends. Grammy just took it all in. The actress mentioned that her mother, also a well-known actress, was performing this summer and that was taking time away from her spending time with the grandchildren. The irony didn’t escape Grammy; these famous people were kvetching (whining) over the same things that we mere mortals all vent about on a daily basis. Life, kids, parents, work, contractors; we ALL do it, rich and famous too.
As Grammy reminded me, we all put our pants on one foot at a time (some may be slipping into $350 size 0 pants, nevertheless it is still one foot at a time). We often gawk at celebrities and romanticize their glamorous lives, and yet they are human too. We hear about their publicized addictions, divorces and arrests, but they also have every day joys and troubles just like all of us.
My son just had to hear the story first hand from his grandmother so he picked up the phone to get the scoop. As they were saying their good-byes, I heard him say to Grammy “Keep partying with the famous people”; not a sentence I ever expected to hear from his mouth to her ears.
I have been a voyeur on the camp photos and videos where my kids are spending the summer. Ok, not really a voyeur since the camp is putting it out for all of us parents to see, but it feels a little voyeuristic. The camp does a fabulous job at portraying the daily happenings of the kids; there are photos, slideshows and videos.
The thing about these sightings is that everyone is smiling. Either there is excellent editing, or these kids are just happy! I keep thinking about when the kids see a camera; they gather together arm and arm and smile because that is what one does when they see a camera. So, is it really all that fun, or is it the view of the camera?
The videos are showing more unposed fun. There are the moments when the kids stop and scream “WE LOVE CAMP” as if they have been prompted (honestly, I don’t think they have), but for me the best moments are when the camera is just filming life.
A special moment at this camp is Shabbat (the Sabbath). The camp has religious services, a special meal and increased music on Shabbat. I just watched one of the Shabbat videos and could feel the joy emanating from the kids and adults. There is a traditional banging on the tables during some songs and, as my kids have reported to me, the song leaders jump from table to table with their guitars. (I was relieved when my daughter guaranteed that the kids scrub the tables extra hard after this table jumping event). I saw little girls spontaneously breaking into dancing circles in the middle of the dining room while their bunk mates ran over to join the dance. This wasn’t posed, this was fun and ruach (Hebrew for spirit).
Then the therapist in me takes over. Not every kid is happy every single moment; of course not. There is homesickness, bunk drama, kids being excluded and overtired campers and staff. There are bad meals, rainy days and even some boring ‘learning’ time, as I have been told. I am reminded again and again, without some down moments, how could any of us ever truly appreciate pure joy? I am not sure we would experience it as wholly if we didn’t have a yucky day with which to compare it.
At camp though, my gut says that the joy outweighs the yuck. Weeks of sleepovers, constant play dates, cool counselors instead of naggy parents telling you to take a shower. Sports, music, dance and craziness instead of school and homework. Camp has an unfair advantage over the rest of life, how could it not? One very long vacation.
Camp is truly my kids’ favorite place in the world. It’s not that they don’t love their parents and enjoy family time, I know they do, it’s just that camp offers a joy, a pure joy that I have yet to see replicated in any other form.
It’s been a little quiet over here in blog-land. I’ve started a few posts and they sit waiting in my cue for the final editing etc. My posts tend to go better when they fly off my fingers onto the screen. I know then that I have something important to say. Not that the ones awaiting perfection aren’t important, sometimes the words just flow easier (remember, a writer, I am not).
I have nothing to say, but I get anxious when a random site emails me and says “we’ve missed your blogs”. Why? I don’t know – a job for my own inner anxiety reducer.
I had a lovely vacation over July 4th and plunged back in to heavy client days only to have a little reprieve for hump day today before more busy-ness for the end of the week. Summer is tricky for the solo therapist, it is actually tricky for most businesses unless you rent boats or manage camps.
Vacations, camps, well-behaved children who don’t have homework, happier families due to less stressful daily life; the need for therapy is down. Honestly, that makes me happy, other than the need to pay my bills. I like that people can find their joy; I like that people are free from worries and feel lighter; I like that people are less troubled and distressed during these lazy summer months.
May you find some joy be it on the beach, at an air conditioned summer movie or just lounging around with no homework, tests or frenzied weeks. We know they are all around the corner, and when the crazy hits, I am here if you need me.