So, you know how I was really, really, really ready for the Divine Miss M to go to camp? You know what will stop a mom in her tracks no matter how far beyond the end of her rope she already is? This question, the night before your child leaves for that camp:
“What if no-one likes me?”
Gut. Freaking. Wrenching.
That question may have – just may have – prompted me to later whisper to Jodi, “We could just keep her home instead.”
But of course, I wouldn’t do that. Summer camp was one of my very favorite parts of summer every year. Back then, I could only articulate specific memories, the fun and laughs, cherished moments and friends. But looking back on it, there is an independence about summer camp that I knew but didn’t consciously recognize then. You’re on your own – no home, no parents, no friends’ parents, just you, your suitcase and your bedding. It’s uniquely your own in a way that nothing else really is at that age. It’s one of the first times you present yourself to others in a new environment completely as just you. I want M to have that experience, too. It’s empowering and though M’s independent nature has certainly never been lacking, it’s still beneficial to foster.
Also, drop-off provided a learning experience for me as well, or a reminder, anyway. Sometimes I get frustrated with Jodi because her instincts with the Divine are not always as immediately empathetic as mine. When I told her that M had asked the question above, which is still reverberating through my head, her immediate response was simply, “She’s been to a million day camps, she’s never had a problem like that before.” I, of course, thought, “Really? You think a 12 year old’s concerns and stresses come from a place of rationality? Plus, this isn’t just a day camp, she’ll be gone for two weeks with what is now, at least in my head, lecherous, hateful characters straight out of Mean Girls.” But I did decide that since I wasn’t 12, I could take part of her statement to heart. M has been to a lot of group settings and literally no-one liking her has never been a problem.
In the car on the way there, though, the Divine mentioned again her concern about not making friends. It isn’t often she has concerns of this nature and this was twice in 24 hours. My reaction was immediate worry and internal freak out. Externally, however, I was about to use my usual m.o. and make some light inquiry for more details while buying myself time to think of a good encouraging response. But I didn’t have to. While I was all worry and protectiveness, Jodi was all casually empowering, immediately approaching M’s concern as a problem to reason right through – and that’s what they did.
Balance is something that has always alluded me, but when it comes to parenting, Jodi and I do that fairly well.
We arrived at camp and got her settled in and by the time we left, what we got was “write some letters to me, okay?” and then off she went with her group.
Needless to say, the first care package is already in the mail.