"The Muffled Cries For Help From a Daddy of Four Beautiful Little Girls"

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Dime Bag of Tic Tacs, Anyone?

As the dean (master, king, dictator, commandant) of a week of summer camp, one of my minor responsibilities is dealing with homesick children.

It happens. And it's not just wiry little girls with pigtails, clinging to stuffed bunnies named Hippity.
No siree. We also have some "big boys" who clobber everyone on the tetherball court but then weep uncontrollably when it's time to hit the bunks.

Regardless of age, gender, or tetherball proficiency, my course of action is always the same:

"Susie," I might say.
"My name's Peter," he might respond.
Then I go on to explain the purpose of camp, the unlikelihood of vermin crawling on their faces in the night, and how their parents are partying like it's 1999 and do NOT want to leave the party right in the middle of the "Thriller" line dance to come out to camp and pick them up.

Please be assured, I'm usually very comforting and persuasive at talking kids down off their metaphorical ledges, but every other year or so, I encounter a really tough cookie.

So when "the talk" doesn't work, I resort to the Homesick pills.
They work EVERY TIME.

Now, the nurse doesn't administer the homesick pills. She can't even administer Tylenol or OxyContin without a parent's permission. So it falls to me to give children Homesick Pills when needed.

Most people just call them "Tic Tacs." But when they're in a different container, they're Homesick Pills.

"What IS this medicine," the kids will ask.
"It's a simple placebo," I tell them. I'm careful never to lie to the children. And they have no idea what "placebo" means.
"It will help you be able to calm down and rest just fine. And then in the morning we can talk about being homesick."

And sure enough, as soon as they swallow the Tic Tac, the sobbing begins to fade.

"Now give it about 30 to 45 minutes for it to start really working." (Because by then you'll be asleep and perfectly fine.)
"I promise you that everyone who has ever taken the homesick pills has ended up doing great and enjoying the rest of the week."

And that's it. Most of the kids thank me in the morning. "The medicine worked great!" they tell me. Only once has someone asked a second night in a row for another dose. But by the third night, that boy told me, "I don't think I'm going to need a pill tonight. I'm doing a lot better."

Of course, I make it a point to tell their parents what I've done. The last thing I need is their child telling them I've given them narcotics. And it's even a good thing to tell the child the whole truth at the end of the week. That way they know that they can take the credit themselves for overcoming their fears. It wasn't the "medicine." They had the strength and courage in them the whole time, because God made them that that way!

Fast-forward three months to our family weekend in the Smoky Mountains.
I'm suffering from a humongous sinus headache in the middle of the night and I just can't sleep. I had brought some allergy meds that help my sinuses, so I popped one of those in about 2 a.m.

By morning, the pain still hasn't left and I never really slept well at all.

"Honey," Cindy hollers down from the upstairs bathroom, examing my "medicine" bottle. "Did you take Tic Tacs in the middle of the night?"

They didn't help my sinuses, but at least I wasn't homesick!