My daughter, Mackenzie, leaves for overnight camp in exactly eight hours. You’d think packing her up for these three weeks would be a fairly easy task. After all, she’s gone to the same camp for the last 5 years and I know the ropes. We’re given a packing list each year. It never varies and I try to keep a drawer full of her camp clothes so that I don’t have to make the same decisions every year on what she needs to pack. So, it’s a no-brainer, right?
Packing her up for camp is beyond my capability. The raggedy, stained t-shirts and shorts I THOUGHT were packed away from last year have mysteriously disappeared.
The five bathing suits I bought last year are also gone. So are the sandals. And so is the special T-shirt she’s required to wear when she first arrives at camp.
I begin to hyperventilate and am short of panicking. I’d forgotten to make the haircut appointment. She’ll return in three weeks not just with a tan and skinned knees, but also with knotted hair that will have to be cut off…all due to my procrastinating and forgetfulness.
As I try and sort through her things, the decisions become overwhelming. Do I pack the required six pairs of shorts? Or do I go with ten, knowing how hard she is on her clothes? But wait, where ARE all those shorts?
I run to Target, buy more clothes and toiletries, only to realize I’ve forgotten to buy a rain jacket. Or wait; is that even on the list?
It’s now two days before camp departure. Things are strewn all over her bedroom floor as I try to sort through things, make decisions, then battle with her because she’s insisting on taking three pillows, a comforter, stuffed animal and three blankets.
“But you’ll be sleeping in a SLEEPING bag– why do you need all this STUFF?”
“I just DO, mom!”
The anxiety level shoots up into the Xanax stage. I mentally go over the things about ADHD that I’ve written and lectured about all these years- how to change expectations; how to accept our ADHD challenges. Then it hit me. GET OUTSIDE HELP. I need to practice what I preach and walk the talk!
I call my older daughter, Kate-Miss Organized- and beg her to take on this horrific task. “Yes, I’ll pay you! I’ll buy you a ticket to Greece, even. Just please…come home and help me get through this nightmare!
Kate comes to my rescue, laughs at the scene before her, grabs the packing list and swiftly gets into gear, seamlessly choosing outfits, underwear, bedding, toiletry, then…gasp…finds the patience (“but I LIKE doing this, mom!) to even print her sister’s name on every item before placing them in the two gigantic duffel bags.
I watch in disbelief as the magic unfolds before me: this clear thinking, calm, organized method of hers and wonder why my ADD brain just can’t wrap around these kinds of chores.
She finishes, dusts her hands off, and plops down to watch TV, leaving me shaking…because…now I have to pack her medications. And document each one- when they need to be given. How many. For what symptoms.
I finally finish and plop down, too… to catch my breath.
She’s packed and ready to go. But I don’t know who needs the vacation more- Mackenzie or me. Whew.