No, this isn’t about Susan Sontag. It’s about how the kids change so gradually, even glacially, and suddenly something blindsides me and everything feels like it’s happening so fast.

Today I was working on my spreadsheet for summer camps (more on that in a sec), and our daughter, “helping” me at the computer, doodled away on post-its. After she’d filled 6 or 8 with words, she asked if I wanted to hear her “book.” Here’s what she read me, about the Lair of the Bear camp we attended last summer:

Lair. Are you having a great time at the Lair? Thank you for the tie-dye. I’ve been wearing the shirt for a year. And thank you for letting me swim in your swimming pool, because I liked it too. And I made a cake for the camp there because I liked it too, because it was fun. And I saw the guys and they were funny because they were not wearing their underpants. David and I swimmed in the swimming pool there at the Lair. Because it was so fun there.

I mean, wow! While not all the words she read me are on the paper, and many spellings are unconventional, it’s a stunning love letter to our summer camp we went to, most based on things that happened (though the no underpants part sounds more like a joke going around kindergarten). And written by a girl who could not read in September when she started school! Whoa.

Her reading and writing have taken off, with their writing assignments on “little  moments” clearly giving her the structure to write a small essay. It’s incredible.

Also she’s passed 4 foot, and her brother put on a full inch in December and January, adding 6 pounds. The kids are changing, and changing, and changing. It happens incredibly fast. What’s next, first grade? (Oh, right. That is next.)

2012-12-27_10-01-21_497OK, a little more on summer camps. We went to family camp Lair of the Bear with my godson for several years before we had kids, and it’s a wonderful tradition. But “summer camp,” the 10 or 11 weeks of summer day camp that’s hopefully fun for kids but is also frankly a way for 2-worker families to keep functioning during the summer, is a whole other thing. Unlike preschool, kindergarten STOPS in June, and nothing happens until fall. It’s kind of freaky.

I’ve been told by many moms that you’ve gotta have it all together by February. A few moms have said you can let it slide later than that, but I’m not taking any chances. This kind of thing totally feeds into my compulsive need to know everything’s organized and set. I’ve got a spreadsheet with 7 or 8 different camp options, and frankly we’re so lucky to have sports, arts, and fun activities to choose from for our girl. Jay vetoed the “edgy and dangerous” camp that sounded like a variation on the Hunger Games, but otherwise there’s an embarrassment of riches. Swimming, science, the great outdoors. Fun!

Another dad asked which camps we’re considering, and I hesitated before emailing my spreadsheet, briefly worried that exposing how much research and how many notes I’d taken would compromise my self esteem. Is this manly? (Or really in my case I should say manly enough? Nobody’s ever confused me with Magnum PI.) But if diapers and vaginal itch cream and night terrors and playing at the park and surprise essays written by the kindergartner have taught me anything, it’s that we have no idea what’s coming next, or how fast it will be here. Maybe my thorough list of camp options, pricing, dates and themes, giving me even a slight illusion that I have any inkling what the summer will look like, and that I can control any of it, is the most guy-like thing I’ve done in weeks!