I stumbled on the Critter Camp at the Kansas Humane Society

As the empty days of Spring Break stretched before me, I got nervous. Because as all you moms know, some empty, lazy days are good, but too many leads to squabbles amongst the troops.

So I filled in one day with a trip to my friend’s ranch, another day with a trip to my friend’s house in the country, each of the big kids got to have a friend over to spend the night, then hopefully Bugs Bunny Club to end the week. Some days with no structure, some days with enough structure that we’d be out of the house but without a real time schedule; the right mixture of lazy and not grousing too much.

Then I stumbled on the Critter Camp at the Kansas Humane Society. It was the opportunity for one morning out of the house for the big kids, doing something they hadn’t before. So I signed up G and Little Missy for a chance to go behind the scenes, to “cuddle kitties and play with doggies,” I think is how they worded it on their site.

I excitedly told the big kids about what I’d done when G looked at me straight-faced in response. “Mom, that’s a girl thing. I don’t want to go if I’ll just be with girls.”

Aaaaand he was probably right. Probably it would be predominantly girls who wanted to go cuddle kitties, but I’d already paid for the thing. So I told him, “I totally get what you’re saying, but I paid for it, so… you need to go.” Then I turned on my ultra-positive mom voice. “But it’s only for one morning! And it’ll probably be super fun!” G, of course, saw through my ultra-positive mom voice, and each time Critter Camp was brought up he looked at me with eyes of, “Are you really going to make me do this?”

The morning of the Critter Camp Hubby called me from work after thinking about the whole thing. The idea of sunk cost has been rolling around in his brain for a couple of weeks, and he thought that we should cut our losses with the fee that I’d already paid and not make G attend if he really was that uncomfortable.

So on the drive to the Humane Society I told G our new plan: you only have to walk in with an open mind but you totally don’t have to stay. He worried about me losing money on the deal, so I broke out my this-is-no-big-deal mom voice: “That is not something you have to worry about. Dad and I aren’t concerned.”

We stood in the doorway of the Critter Camp classroom and watched girl after girl filter in. He looked at me, his eyes saying, “I knew this place would be filled with girls.” We talked to the teacher who said that that session would be super fun because the kids would watch the dog on an agility course. And I think the fact that they’d be doing something other than playing with animals for three-and-a-half hours made it ok with my son. He told me he was fine and walked off to a table.

Afterwards, he loved it. He came up to me and explained the math they’d learned (how many offspring one unspayed female dog can have after two years: 511) and that the next day they’d get to watch an animal getting spayed and could they come back?

And so! It turned out well. Add a little math to that kid’s morning with the promise of science in the future and he’s all good.


Erin Fox is a busy wife and mother of three. She is a weekly columnist for the Times- Gazette.