Carving out a summer

Last summer I was able to convince my son, Silas, to attend several different day camps. He attended activities through the YMCA and ScienceWorks. He certainly didn't have something every week, but he at least had a few hours a day at these activities several weeks of the summer.

I tried my hardest to sell these activities to my son. "Look, Silas, you'll get to look at snakes, isn't that amazing!?" Or "Wow, a Slip-and-Slide, that sounds super fun!"

Unfortunately, my son, who prefers a day playing Legos with his Grandpa, was never particularly enthusiastic.

This summer Silas absolutely refused to let me sign him up for any of those same camps. Unlike Silas, I'm unable to take summers off, but I'm lucky in the fact that my parents are willing and able to watch Silas while I'm at work. Silas taking different camps and activities during the day helps me feel a little less guilty about it, though, and it gives my parents a chance to do things with their day other than playdates and Legos.

The one camp that Silas enthusiastically signed up for two sessions of was the woodworking camp being offered at Willow Wind. When I ran the idea by Silas I expected his usual lack of response, and then an eventual "No! No! No!" But somehow, even before attending, Silas knew that woodworking sounded fun. The flier stated that children would be able to make "anything they could imagine," though I changed this when reading it to Silas to "most things you can imagine," as Silas already was dreaming of building a second home for his grandparents and a human-sized, fully functional robot out of wood.

For two weeks, Silas spent his mornings at Willow Wind, totally fascinated by things such as hot glue guns, drills and saws. Every day when I'd pick Silas up he'd be totally excited about the things he had accomplished that week. Silas made wooden mice, a little wooden house complete with furniture for his mice to live in, and a birdhouse. It's usually hard to get any information out of Silas. I believe he has a future guarding gold at Fort Knox; it would be easier to train my cats to do circus tricks than it is to get Silas to share any details of his day with me.

Woodworking camp was different. Silas came home each day full of enthusiastic stories of what tools he had used that day, and once very proudly showed us his burn that he had gotten from the hot glue gun. While very impressive, the rest of us had a hard time actually seeing the burn. Nonetheless, Silas was profusely praised for his bravery.

Now that woodworking camp has ended, the new activity I have found for Silas is a babysitter.

I've never hired a babysitter before, since I've always had my parents watch Silas (grandparents are the best babysitters. I always advise my pregnant friends to move home and take advantage of this). But with the goal of giving my parents a few hours of free time each week I hired my neighbor to watch Silas for five hours each week.

Our neighbor is a male college student who constantly gives high-fives and says "Awesome!" In fact, he says this so much that I don't think I'll be able to hear that word again for the rest of my life without thinking of him. Silas is awesome, their activities for the day are awesome, and when we chat at the end of the day things always were awesome. I'm even included in being awesome for being flexible with his schedule. After all, all I need is someone to watch Silas for a few hours each week; it doesn't really matter which days or at what times.

My neighbor has taken Silas fishing, to the waterslides and to the movies. I think he's even coming to watch Silas again this afternoon. I'm not sure what they'll be doing, but I'm sure it will be awesome.

Zoe Abel is attempting to be an awesome mom, even though she doesn't own any power tools. You can contact her at

Share This Story