On dropping off my kid at camp for the first time

I am tucking the sheet around the mattress on the top bunk which she has chosen because it runs perpendicular to her friend Belle’s. I imagine them later that night, all muffled giggles and flashlights burning dim. I am forcing the rumpled sheet around the mattress and with each tuck I am enfolding so many things. Two streams of feelings flood me: Did I pack her a hoodie? Did I love her enough? Does she have enough toothpaste for the week? Did I love her enough? I am tucking in every hope of every parent who has ever sent their kid to camp: Please, please, have so much fun that you have no time to miss home. Please don’t just eat Frito’s and drink Lemonade all week. Please be kind to the girl that everyone thinks is a weirdo. The weirdoes all grow up to be awesome people, trust.

In the days leading up to camp, my daughter was different. More aware, more sensitive. She hugged me tighter, visited kindness more readily upon her brother. It is both easy and completely aggravating to love the child who is antyspantsed excited about something on the horizon.

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But there is new under the campground sun. For in every stage of parenting, there are victories and crushing losses. I am ecstatic that my child went barreling onto the top bunk without fear. I am so pleased that she then came down and group hugged us with a vice grip. I am bereft to know that I will blink and suddenly she will be asking me to back off and let her put the sheets on her bunk. In her college dorm room.

There is an unspoken contract that parents make in sending their kids to camp for the week. It is different than simply sending them to school because with school you have some say-so with their lunch orders and where they sleep. With sleepaway camp, you sign away your rights to intervene for the designated time; you trust that whatever you learn will be born either of necessity or overflow. You gain the right to not have to coordinate, support, discipline for the week; you surrender your rights to ever truly know what really happened. In short, you empower your child to have his/her own life–to not only eat cereal for dinner if she so pleases but to harbor the experience of crushing hard on a boy for the first time deep deep in her heart. She will tell you about one or both or neither because you empowered her to make that choice.

Our house is so quiet at night. The absence of one is surely felt. I don’t want that hole ever to be filled by any but that beautiful girl. Bittersweet is one word. The taste of two elements at once. I hope one day she knows exactly what it means.

Camp

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Inflating a pool, deflating my pride

You hear a lot of voices while you’re inflating the kiddie pool in the high noon sun. Most of them are saying,

You are a moron.

Why aren’t the kids helping you?

Was that a wasp?

You are still a moron.

 

You might even appreciate the irony for a moment, inflating the kiddie pool while standing on the surface of the burning sun, that you paid for a hot yoga class that morning, HAHAH, which is basically the same thing, HAHA, in terms of working out in a sauna and breathing hard. The only difference is that in hota yoga your outfit was cuter and at the end the instructor placed an ice cold towel on your head as she whispered, “Namaste….”

Then there’s always this one voice that seems to intone not in your head but in your heart and it says,

Don’t be mad about this. Don’t be mad about any of this. Don’t feel sorry for yourself for one second. This thing you’re doing for your kids–

That voice gets interrupted for a second because you just bumped your head on the beach umbrella you were trying to drill into the ground near the sad-looking kiddie pool so that the littles will have some shade.

I know you just hit your head, says the voice, and I know how that feels. But be tenderhearted anyway.

You go in the house and tell the kids you want to share something with them. They look slightly alarmed because you are all sweaty and, “Mom, we were watching Teen Titans–”

“You guys, so I got the pool all ready for you,”

“Yeah, thanks, Mama,” they pat my shoulder just to maybe tamp down the crazy I might unleash on them at any moment.

“So you know, as I was out there and I was sweating and getting injured just to do something nice for you guys, I was thinking about someone who suffered a lot doing nice things for me,

“Jesus?” they say.

“Yeah. And how I don’t always say thank you. So that was just a reminder of how even Mommy needs to say thank you to Jesus more.”

All I have is the Gospel. Again and again I’m fooled by pride that I’m the one making big things happen. But all I have is Jesus and the grace he floods me with, the air that he pours into my lungs each day, which I offer in trickles and spits and poorly inflated pools to the little ones who are on lease to me. All glory is his. Namaste, Peace be with you, and Amen.

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As good as I imagined it: Being recognized

It was as good as I imagined it, friends. A woman came up to me at a restaurant and said, “You look familiar. What’s your Twitter name?” We proceeded to confirm our social media identities. This transaction took place in front of my children, which is important inasmuch as my children, who believe their mother to be a loser who exists only to buy the Uncrustables and to embarrasses them when she has parent chaplain duty, is actually Twitter famous. We made a mom date, the Twitter lady and I. We talked about writer dork things and compared podcast notes. So I made a new friend and my kids think me slightly less of a loser mom. Win win. Go follow my new friend Bethany on the Twitter. She’s fab.

Two ladies enjoying a day out at the races, Ascot racetrack, Brisbane

***

Earlier in the day, I had entered a court room. I immediately saw a co-worker, who will remain anonymous. It felt good to recognize someone in a sea of strangers, even though none of us would be anonymous for long. We sat and watched the courtroom proceedings. Names were called. Charges were announced. “So public,” my co-worker commented. Some in shackles, some in suits, some in the summer shorts attire. Whatever the uniform, we were supposedly all equals before the law. I stood before the judge of my municipality. He called my name, a name that reminds me that I’m in the South: “Miss Layyy.” Miss Layyy. I squeaked, “Present” and stood in a panel of other lawbreakers. We had driven above the speed limit. We had “forgotten” to brake at a stop sign. Our charges were dismissed, however, given our good driving records. “Except for Miss Layyy. Charges will be dismissed but she must pay cost of court. She was speeding through a school zone and that’s a no-no.” I waited in line with the other perpetrators and handed the clerk my card. I signed my name, she who owned the card, she who did the crime and paid for it, she who wants to be recognized known, just not for a no-no.

Susannah Adamson, arrested for stealing a man's purse

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