I’m in complete denial.
My baby is going to camp on Sunday. For a month.
Of course, Zachary is not a baby, rather a fabulous boy almost ten years old. He’s a strong, brave and thoughtful kid. He signed up for the camp last year, for two weeks, and never looked back. When we picked him up, he jumped into my arms and asked to go for the whole summer next time.
I love his spirit.
It’s an all boys’ camp with an all girls’ camp over the hill from them. Complete with the lake, and buddy tag board, it’s a site out of the 1950’s. Actually, I doubt it’s been updated much since the 1950’s. It’s a YMCA camp and a cookie cutter copy of the YWCA camp I went to as a child. Same mess hall, same archery, same talent show, arts and crafts. Stepping on the grounds is like taking a time warp- a good one- back into a favorite moment in my childhood.
I was on my own. The freedom was intoxicating.
Zachary loves to be on his own, too. His letter to his counselor reflected a desire to “hang out, be silly and do nothing,” along with a top bunk. The main reason for going to camp? In his wry humor, he wrote, “to not be home.” I think it’s true, for a few weeks he gets to be Zachary, not Ben’s brother or Jake’s brother or anyone’s brother. Just Zachary. He’ll still negotiate like a true middle child. There is no amount of time in the woods that will take that ingrained behavior away from him- but it will be about leadership and mediation with friends instead of keeping his brothers from a screaming fight at 7AM in the morning.
Zachary is not much of a morning guy. He likes to sleep in and wake up slowly. Cook himself some eggs. Avoid the toothbrush if at all possible.
I am going to miss him. I agreed to this month long camp knowing it was the best thing for him, knowing how much he loved it. As the date approaches, I’m getting weepy and full of doubt.
Not about him, mind you, about me.
My baby is going off and will come back a different person. Not just the sunburn or the longer hair or the layers of dirt baked into his feet, but he will have had a month of experience getting to know himself, other new friends and building a community. He’ll refresh his bow skills and take overnight hikes and learn the J stroke in a canoe.
He’ll just be Zachary for a while and in that time, amazing things will grow. He’ll gain confidence, and probably grow out of all the clothes we’re sending.
I keep looking at the rest of the week and going over all the tasks that have to be done- a doctor’s appointment, laundry, pull out Zachary’s trunk, get toiletries together, find the sleeping bag, buy a new blanket for him to take… check lists and sharpies to write his name in all the clothes.
It’s busy work. It keeps me in denial.
My baby is going away for a month.
I am going to miss him so much.