I have often thought about a “Baby Book” to capture the truly meaningful firsts our children present us with. Today’s first is a doozy: first time I dropped him off in a place where both he and I knew exactly zero people and drove away with a promise that I’d be back in a week. Not only that, but you go to podunkville (aka Concord NH) and take a left for about 40 minutes. The route there involved actual dirt roads. I felt like Abraham going on a nice little walk with Isaac.
Grey was super subdued on our trip up. I’d opined that I thought it would be good for him to do the trip up without screens, expecting that this was completely unrealistic. I also bought him Garrison Keillor’s “Pretty Good Joke Book”. This lead to predictable results. Also, the book is clearly less G-rated than I thought, as I, um, had to explain quite a few vocabulary words I was hoping to have a few more years on. I guess it was a good chance to tell him what they really mean? (Sample: “Son, let’s have a talk about sex” “Sure dad, what do you want to know?”) But even without any screens on a 2.5 hour trip, the back seat was very, very quiet.
“Mom? Is it normal to feel both excited and scared at the same time?”
Yes son. It’s very, very normal.
Last night he had a rough night going to bed. I think packing his bags helped impress upon him that he was really doing this thing. He was really going to a new place he couldn’t visualize with people he didn’t know doing things he couldn’t imagine. It probably doesn’t help that 100% of his knowledge of overnight camp comes from Foxtrot cartoons. (“Will people prank me?”) I called my folks, and my brother the Presbyterian-Summer-Camp-Champlain who all reassured Grey it would be fine! Great! I could hear his skepticism. He squirmed and looked miserable. “I’m not going to know anyone! I wish I wasn’t going.” He finally fell asleep with his head on my lap, for the first time since he was a baby.
I was super relieved this morning when he insisted on an early departure because he didn’t want to be late. There was the quiet ride. We drove over the highly civilized dirt roads, and got to Camp Wilmot maybe a half hour early. He and I walked the grounds while the camp got itself ready for the latest influx. He insisted on carrying his very heavy backpack (“I need to learn to carry my own things!”), but didn’t want to see the lake. Or the cabins. Or the labrynth. Or the big hill.
As we were walking back up the hill to register, a young man – Ethan – came to introduce himself. “Hey, I think I’m your counsellor!” They hit it off like a house on fire. Grey stood up straighter and looked much less skeptical. As we registered, he confided to me that he and Ethan were “just alike!”. When the time came to walk down to the Purple Cabin that will be his home for the week, his stride had the strength of a kid who no longer knew no one. I said goodbye and turned to go. He sentimentally started showing Ethan the “Grossology” section of his Bible. (Mom knows how to keep a kid’s attention!)
He was great. I was fighting tears. And that’s it. I will have an update in a week, if all goes well. So will you. We’ll both wonder together how things are going. Will he remember his sunscreen? Will he have trouble going to sleep without his brother? Will he like camp cooking? Will he feel the Holy Spirit sneak into his soul at the evening campfire?
You and I will never know the full story. Grey is the writer of his own tales now.