Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Distance Makes the Heart Grows Fonder, and by "Distance" I Mean "Summer Camp"

The boys left for summer camp almost a week and a half ago while the time has flown by, it also seems like I haven’t seen them in an age. Not having them around makes me keenly aware of how tactile a parent I am.  I miss all those little moments of random hugs around my waist, bodies leaning against me, and the instances where I touch their hair, their hands, put my arm around their shoulders or stop to bestow a kiss as I walk by them in a room.  

I’ve tried to make up for it by being extra affectionate with my husband, but with the temperature hovering around 95 here every day, I’m not looking for, um,…   how do I say this delicately? …Sustained affection? I’m just looking for those little gestures that reassure all parties involved that they are loved and cherished. 

It makes me wonder if the boys are getting the love and reassurance that I know they must be missing, too. I say that without any notions or worries that they are withering away without their mommy. I am well aware and a champion of the fact that one of the great things about camp is that it helps children learn how to deal with their peers in a more even playing field and allows them to experience what life can be like as an independent. 

It frightens and delights me in equal parts to think about my nine and eleven year olds growing into young men and detaching themselves from their father and me. I want them to need me! I want them to always know that we’ve always got their back. But I also thrill at the glimpses of the men they will soon be and am so proud when they enjoy success that is theirs and theirs alone.

I guess I am just having a moment… I know I said I wouldn’t miss them! But I was wrong. I talked to my mother today and she reported that the Animal is a delight and has been easy-going and up for anything that is proposed while on their camping adventure. And letters finally arrived from the boys, hallelujah! (Three weeks is a really long time to go with no news about your child and I was doubtful they would take time to write.) CC conveyed real excitement that he was making friends quickly and then asked if he could bring home a dove that he adopted at the camp animal center. He assures us that if we buy the cage, he will pay for everything else. Right. Destructo simply wrote that he forgot to pack toys, would I please send some? But he backed up the “gimme” with a lovely family portrait to show he was thinking of us.  

The capper was that I also received a letter from Destructo’s counselor that said my 9-year-old was doing great and that he had never seen a boy so kind and respectful of others. He went on to say that Destructo was a great friend to everyone, that he had had a lot of fun canoeing with him on the lake, and to call if I had any questions.

This letter would be lovely for any parent to receive, of course, but I was moved to tears by his words because it doesn’t seem so long ago that Destructo was diagnosed with ADHD and he was having an extremely difficult time connecting with his classmates because his social skills were just not refined enough. (First grade is rough for known booger-pickers, it turns out.) He didn’t have the capacity to read other kids’ social cues and, though always charming to adults and teens, was just too random in his attention and interests to interact in a way that other kids didn’t find strange. He has grown so much during our time in England and to hear that he is integrating into camp life so easily makes me really hopeful that he will do well in school when he returns to his old school in September.  

Is anyone else going through a summer camp-induced reevaluation where your children are concerned? I feel like this time away from them is making me treasure each of them and their unique gifts that they bring to the table more than I have in a long time. Huh, It makes me wonder if that old truism distance makes the heart grow fonder was talking about parents and children, not lovers. 


Thoughts appreciated. Advice welcome. Douche-baggery scoffed at then deleted.