Last weekend I was so hot and so worried I lost 5 pounds and did not even notice until now. Suddenly I’ve lost my taste for sweets.
Week seven underway and we are all tired of our quiet house. I told myself at the outset that I would not spend the summer waiting for the boy to come home, and for the first six weeks I made good on that promise in some ways but not others. I spent time with my other kids doing things they wanted to do and sharing with them new experiences that are interesting to me. I promised to have drinks with lots of people to help pass the time but I didn’t make good on that one. I said I would sort through his drawings and keep the best ones, but I can’t go anywhere near that mountain of paper with any kind of gusto and certainly not a shredder.
But the biggest elephant in the room right now is that this adventure is supposed to prepare us for more separations in the future, and even though I should feel better about age 22 now than I did, I still can’t envision a life without this person under my roof. We were not prepared for the scale or the depth of the adjustment at home; the house is neater, cooking is simpler, and car rides are quieter, but nothing is better without him here (which is not at all surprising). I have to remind myself that this particular kind of absence isn’t what camp was about – that long distances and separation over several weeks is not the model we are shooting for, that camp is only an experiment and not a template for his adult life.
We still have lots of data to collect before we really know what we have learned, and the surprise at this point is that most of the learning has been about ourselves and not him. But a few things are certain – we are all stronger, smarter and better prepared for the next steps we take toward independence, and that we still need to address what independence really means within the structure of a family.
We got the best hugs ever and spent much of the day just soaking up the feeling of being together again. It was hot and humid and so group activities where we could socialize and learn more about camp just seemed impossible – we strolled off in search of a breeze and found it on a hill overlooking the lake.
One look at his cabin made me feel so proud of our boy – living in close quarters in that heat (lots of fans) for so long would test the best of us. And of course this is no ordinary group of boys. They are quirky and sometimes challenging kids, and fortunately the counselors are young men with good hearts and lots of energy. It is clear that he copes by drawing – the walls next to his bunk are plastered with art in which every part of the paper is colored. Our girl found a little note written on the wall next to his pillow: “6 weeks can take forever and all summer.” At that moment it was hard not to whisk him to the car and bring him home, until I asked him what he missed most. He looked wistfully away and sighed. “Wireless internet.” Okay, he can stay.
And the reality is that he showed us he has the tools to stick it out for another couple weeks, and do so happily. His knee is great, he is taller (I think), more muscular (for sure), and much more self sufficient. He swims twice a day and has learned to water ski. He got and wrote some terrific letters; there’s an impressive pile of them next to his bunk. I am overwhelmed at the generosity of all of the friends and family who make the effort to write to him and send him care packages. It is an unexpected blessing of this whole enterprise that so many people would take the time from summer work and travel to think of him – he got packages and postcards from Europe, Ohio and California representing family, friends and teachers he has known at every age all the way back to preschool.
Our world – his world – is bigger than we thought. That alone is worth the price of separation.