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Editor’s note: Tammy Keith is on leave, and her sons are now too old for camp, unless they were to go as counselors. This column originally ran in May 2007.

My younger son is on the waiting list for camp this summer. He should get used to it. In our family, waiting and camp go together.

We call it the Home Alone syndrome. My husband and I have had this little problem in the past. We forgot to pick our older son up at camp. Twice.

Well, forgot is a strong word. We just were confused about what day to pick him up. It’s all my husband’s fault. He has a great memory for days and dates. Except when it comes to camp, apparently.

The first time, I got a call at work from the camp counselor, asking where we were. I cried and felt like a terrible mother. I’m telling you, there isn’t a worse feeling than seeing your son sitting alone on his trunk by the side of the road.

The next year, I relied again on my husband’s usually excellent memory. Again, a phone call. This time it was John himself. He called my husband, who thought he was joking.

My husband called me and said, “We did it again!” We flew out the door and headed to camp. This time instead of tears, there was uncontrollable nervous laughter. My husband joked that at least we’d get a good parking space.

Now my younger son, Scott, wants to go to the same camp. It will be his first time. We waited a little late to apply, and he’s on a waiting list. I imagine that the counselors have a big black book of bad parents, and we’re in it. I can just see “ABANDONS KID AT CAMP” written by our names.

I’ve never left my children anywhere before. Well, if you don’t count school. The elementary school they attended used to have early release day on Wednesdays. After being a stay-at-home mom for a while, I started back to work. I would inevitably get caught up in something and get a call from the school that I’d forgotten Scott.

Poor thing. I remember zooming up to the front of the school and seeing him sitting on the sidewalk with the principal, the last kid there.

I love my boys more than anything. I really do. I miss them when they’re gone.

Scott is a little nervous about whether we’ll show up at camp, if he even gets in.

In typical older-brother fashion, John said, “If they forgot their favorite son twice, just think what they’ll do to you.”

I’m determined to remember this year. I’ll tattoo it on my hand, if I have to. Write it in lipstick on every mirror in my house. Rent a billboard.

Maybe I’ll camp out at camp. That’s it. Maybe I should sign up to be a volunteer at camp, and then surely I’ll be able to remember Scott.

I ran into a friend of mine this week who asked, “Is Scott going to camp?”

Then the smarty-pants added, “Are you going to pick him up?”

Ha. Ha. Like parents don’t forget their kids at camp every day.

I know we won’t forget a son of ours for the third time.

And if we do, I’m not telling a soul.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

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