It was a very rainy day. Our son, who rode his bike from school, looked like he had fallen in the sloot. He was wet from the top of his head to his shoes. As I peeled off his coat and then dried his hair, I was grateful that he was safe and home. When I asked him about his ride home, he admitted it was pretty bad. I then asked the big question: why didn’t you use your hood? This is the hood that is attached to his coat, the hood that was sitting there gathering a liter of water, I would imagine. He answered: oh, I forgot I had a hood.
This is the moment that parents know, the moment when you sigh and shake your head. How can such a smart boy, a very bright child, be so clueless about practical things? How is he not able to open a small bag of M&M’s? How can he not remember to take the washcloth out of the shower? And how is this boy going to survive at camp without us to guide him all the way?
His class is going to a three day camp. This not a rustic camp. There are cabins, power and plumbing. But he is going away for three days! He was shown all the items that were packed for him, he was reminded to brush his teeth, to take a shower each day and maybe, possibly, to wash his hair. He was shown how many changes of clothes he will have, his sleeping bag and his pillow. We made sure that he was prepared and that he was ready to live without parents for three days. But we wonder if he will ever see his toothbrush or a drop of shampoo. We wonder if he will even change his jeans in those three days. I did request two things of him: to have a fabulous time and to brush his hair. He did promise, but I think he will forget he has a brush or even hair.
I guess that is what growing up is all about. Letting them go to camp and be wild and crazy with other children. To let other adults be their minders for a few days. Just as long as they come back to us and if they are smiling, then that is a bonus.
But who is going to kiss him good night and who is going to give me those massive hugs that I love so much? I think camp gives me a taste of what life will be like when he goes away to university. Maybe by then we will all be happy to say a temporary farewell, but I somehow doubt that. If he goes to university at the age of 18, I will still see him as this blonde, blue eyed eleven year old who is not too old for a snuggle. I come to parenting late in life, and now I know what all those parent’s tears were all about. This is day two of camp and it is raining and I am wondering if he remembered his hood. Whether he did or did not, there is nothing I can do about it and that is the hardest thing to accept.
As our boy was leaving for camp, he yelled back “did you pack me a pillowcase?” A pillowcase? Now he cares about covered pillows? Now he is Martha Stewart? We will be so happy when he comes back, and I hope with all my heart he remembers to bring the pillow back.
Recommended reading: ARCADIA by Lauren Groff. What a beautifully written novel! More on this later…