Stephanie Pearce: Camp Stephanie
You’ve heard me talk about my kids and how much I love them, but I also have a nephew that was in and out of our household throughout several years. I watched him when he was a baby while his mother worked, and when he was in fifth grade, he came to live with me for the school year. He traveled to school in Hayden with me and my son because that’s where I worked.
The first time he lived with us, he was an innocent child who laughed and treated my kids like his siblings — in every way. It wasn’t all roses. They fought like most siblings do, too.
The next time he came to live with me, he had been in some trouble and really didn’t have much of a choice. Between the first and second time, he had to learn a few things, and somehow, our home became referred to as Camp Stephanie.
I am a firm believer that if you keep a child busy, they will be less likely to get into trouble. I have learned that sometimes experiencing trouble is inevitable. Sometimes it’s necessary, but busy is always better. I also think that hard work makes a kid think about what they’ve done. This is where the name “Camp Stephanie” came into play.
I have had my kids move a few tons of small square bales for certain infractions. I’ve had them dig holes for fence posts.
My nephew has looked at me and told me I have a backhoe to dig holes with. I told him, “Sometimes you need to dig holes more than I need them dug.”
Usually the kids were so angry or hurt that doing something physical got their frustrations out. It helped them put that anger toward something positive instead of being destructive. I can’t say it always worked, but most of the time when they finished these chores, their anger would be subsided.
There were good times at Camp Stephanie, too. We had a lot of fun playing board games, old-fashioned games and just helping one another with chores.
One such time of volunteering help, my nephew was assisting us in unclogging the kitchen drain. We put a metal snake down it to see if we could find where it was clogged and pull it up. My nephew climbed under the sink because where we put it down was in a corner and he fit the space best.
The snake was taking so long to get down the drain, so my husband rigged it to a drill so it would go faster. My nephew had a glove on and guided the snake down the hole. Somehow the snake got above him while he was under the sink. When it did, it was going round and round above his head.
Quickly, I hear this blood-curdling scream from the sink. The drill stopped and my nephew came out holding his head. I looked and his hand was covering a bald spot about the size of a nickel. The snake had caught the poor kid’s hair and pulled it out.
I felt horrible. I couldn’t even imagine how much that must have hurt.
Later, we laughed as we gave him a cap to cover the bald spot. I think if you look closely, that bald spot still shines in the sunlight.
I’m glad he can look back and laugh about it now, too. Love you nephew. I know our family is prone to male baldness. Sorry we helped yours come a little early.
Ruth Rose Hutton was a fighter. As she aged, multiple falls compromised her independence, but her spirit endured. She always seemed to recover, surprising her doctors and family, who were grateful to have her in their lives until her death at age 87.