Sunday, July 1, 2012

Camp drop off

A few months ago my oldest son asked me if he could go to camp.  I said no. I didn't even think about it, it just came out, "no".  He sulked a bit and walked away.  A few days later his friend Joe called and said he was going and Parker could be his bunk mate.  With this new knowledge Parker asked Don if he could go and he said yes, it just came out "yes".  Joe is a good friend of my son's but I also know that Joe is the youngest of three and has advanced street smarts when MY son isn't even allowed to cross the street, he is so smart about.  He also has a lot more freedom and the last time I picked Parker up from a playdate they were jumping from a tree house onto a trampoline which had a sprinkler under it. Not only that, this was an ancient trampoline from before my time with rusty springs that were exposed and don't think for a second there was a safety net around it. So when I think of Joe, safety is the last thing that comes to mind.
I made sure to share this info with Don as we whisper argued in bed.  We always whisper in bed even though the boys rooms are on a different floor. I'm even uncomfortable with THAT distance.  Don said he had always wanted to go to camp and his parents didn't let him (my mother-in-law has never looked so wise) and that I had spoken fondly of my camp time.
I guess I was around the same age when I went to the same camp that Parker wants to attend.  Sure I spoke highly of the camp fires and horse back riding, what I failed to mention is that I wore my bathing suit the majority of the time, didn't shower , slept with my camp counselor because I was afraid of the dark and pooped in the lake because I had held it so long for fear of pooping on the camp toilet.
Nope, I hadn't mentioned that.
I reluctantly agreed only because I didn't want to spoil a great time on account of my selfish need to tuck him in every night.   I spent a few days packing his suitcase. I packed an outfit for every day.  Underwear, shorts and a t-shirt ( in that order) tied with a string.  That way he matches and also, I know if he actually changed clothes because he has to untie the string.   PJ's, a couple flashlights, a photo album with pictures of us and his beloved chocolate labs. Bug spray, a body wash-shampoo-conditioner all in one and his stuffed rabbit.
We arrived and discovered that they didn't open the doors until exactly at 2 o'clock, the assigned drop off time.  Despite being on a lake in a very wooded area, we managed to stand for 30 minutes in the direct sunlight on the hottest day of the year.  Welcome to camp kid.
It was miserable.  I could feel the sweat dripping down my chest across my stomach which was stuck in knots.  I looked around.  A lot of little kids with their parents who seemed eager to drop their kids off and run. I on the other hand was plotting an escape with my son and didn't care about my husband. He was a rockstar there, it appeared that he had taught 75% of the campers at one time in their life and every other minute someone was screaming his name and he would give the same smile and wave, even if he knew them or not.  So naturally he thought this camp was awesome.
We were finally allowed in and by that time my shirt was completely stuck to my body and felt so pretty as I met the bubbly teen camp counselors.  I thought I would share that I was an alumni of this camp but realized it was 25 years ago, which is 10 years prior to their existence so I opted to keep my mouth shut.
Parker had been talking for weeks about some swimming test that campers do to assess their level. Yellow is beginner Blue is intermediate and Green is advanced. I think this a fantastic idea because once assessed they wear the color bracelet the entire time.  We walked down to the lake and as I saw the other swimmers doing backstroke, breaststroke and knew he was in trouble. He eased in to the same lake that only 25 years ago his mother pooped in. He did the first lap fine, but he has never even heard of backstroke. I saw him flailing and gasping for air screaming to the lifeguard. It was at that point she told him to stand up.  He didn't realize he could touch the bottom.  I knew this was bad. He had his stone face on which meant he is one crack away from a reluctant breakdown.  He didn't finish the test and returned to us with a yellow wristband which he has to sport the entire week screaming he sucks. He was devastated and couldn't fight back his tears. He may be our oldest, but without his younger brothers around he let his vulnerability show. This is not a good start.  We told him that it didn't mean anything and he argued that a rock could swim better than him, and honestly I had to agree.  I hugged my soaking sobbing son and wrapped him in a towel glaring at Don.  I mouthed "good idea ass hole" Ok, I didn't mouth ass hole, but he got my drift.
We took the long walk to the cabin where we were greeted by four young guys who god bless them,  are going to have quite a week.  I'm coddling my tearful son and I'm sure they could see the helicopter swirling over me and labeled me right away.  I didn't care if they thought I was a hover-mom, I was about to leave my first born in the care of these hormone raging non-maternal "kids".  The camp guy asked how the test went, how do you think it went Mr. Obvious?   Don was trying his best to make Parker feel better who had now declared that he didn't want to go to camp,  and wanted to go home.  Before I could say ok and run, Don was hugging him goodbye and grabbing my hand to go.  I tried my best to break free of his grip, but he is stronger and I gave one last hug to my poor baby whose eyes were now bigger than any puppies pleading with me to not subject him to this torture disguised as camp.
I looked across the lake where there are multi-million dollar homes and wondered if they would rent me a room with a view and a set of binoculars for a week.  As we walked up the hill to our car I had to fight every urge to turn around.  I think that is why Don was walking behind me.  I fought back tears.  We are paying a fortune to leave our son at something he doesn't want to do.    Before I left, I took a care package to the office to be delivered in two days.  Unfortunately one of the items was goggles.  Way to rub salt in the wound mother of the year.
Once we got in the car I kept saying on repeat that this was not a good idea. I stopped the car and said that my intuition was telling me that I needed to go back and pick him up and Don said my intuition had been suffocated by my mom-tuition and that he was going to be fine.  We took a wrong turn to get out and I again reminded Don that this was a sign.   As we got on the main road my ovaries where straining in their magnetic pull toward my baby.  It started to pour down rain.
"Oh great Don, our son will spend his first night away from home, in a torrential downpour which will lead to a tsunami and our son's cabin is right on the lake" TURN AROUND!"
Don was now trying to suppress a laugh as he continued to drive in the wrong direction, which was any direction that was not towards our son.  That made me even more mad and I told him that this was all his fault and we are causing serious damage by abandoning our son. He said that damage pales in comparison to the damage our son would endure if his mommy ran back to his cabin and swaddled him in to a beach towel burrito and bolted.
I guess he has a point.  It has now been five hours.. I don't know how I'm going to last another 148 hours until we pick him up.
I can't call, he can't call me and now I'm wishing I had gotten him that  iphone he has been wanting since he was 7, again bad bad mommy.
This is a lesson for both of us I'm sure, I just haven't figured out which kind.


  1. I can only imagine how difficult that was to leave today. This is absolutely a right of passage that he will thank you for one day. I look forward to hearing about how awesome his week went.

  2. I thank my mom about every day that she let me disappear with my sled on the coldest day of the year for the entire day. Little did she know the dangerous things we did. Letting me climb trees and telephone poles. Build tree huts. Camp out all night by the railroad tracks.(Where the hobos camped)And so many other activities that I could write a book about the slim odds of surviving my childhood. Thanks mom.

  3. Can't wait to hear how much he enjoyed camp! I'm sure he was right as rain right after you left. :)