Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Celebrating a Different Kind of Independence

Summer camp is not for sissies. It requires a mental toughness, a fierce independence, and a quick adaptation to a different environment. One must be able to welcome the new, while loosening the grip on the old, with a sense of challenge and adventure towards the independent journey ahead. Camp is not for the weak, but a place of growth for the strong.

Which is why I was asked politely to leave.

My oldest son, Chase, is at summer camp for the first time. (As in OVERNIGHT, without his mom.)

I have been mentally preparing myself for the “drop-off” since the time my deposit cleared, and the precise moment I lost a little more of my mind. Leaving my nine-year-old son, unfortunately, happened just as I envisioned, only with more dramatics, more heartache and regret than even I could have imagined.

There was much crying and last minute hugging. Goodbyes were repeatedly spoken as if it would make the moment last longer. Arms were wrapped around legs in an effort to keep the other from leaving, tears flowing to the ground in a way that was almost embarrassing.

And then I was reprimanded, told to gather myself and release my grip from around the legs of my child.

The nerve.

Much to the chagrin of his mother, Chase embraced the send off with much maturity, much bravery, clearly demonstrating DNA from his paternal side. Smiling wide with pearly whites that won’t see a toothbrush for the next five days, my son joyfully reunited with his three closest friends from South Carolina in a moment that made my heart full and the ugly cry worthwhile.

The older my children become the more I accept that God expects me to hold them with open hands. They won’t always be under my care, my protection, my watch and I have to trust in the promise that He will be with them wherever they go.

Overnight camp is just another rite of passage towards independence and a painful reminder of how swiftly my time with my children is expiring. It is difficult not to cling to them with a grasp that dares to defy time, but I know that with each year that passes, my hold must loosen so that they can cling to Him instead.

But if Chase thinks he is going off to college, he’s got another thing coming.


Hunter, Chase, Wilson and Thomas reunited


Future campers: Powers, Chandler and Lane

The joy of friendship

We're searching for a drama camp for Mary Mac

10 comments:

Meritt said...

LOL... awesome post. I loved the last line too as it is kind of what I was thinking when I saw her photo! LOL. Much more dramatic than her brothers. ;)

Tricia Massey said...

I bet you won't have to wash his wash rag and towel either. (I hope he keeps the letter I sent him- it talks about bathing which I didn't do when I went to summer camp!)
Can't wait to hear all about it when he gets home.
Tricia
P.S. Thanks for this morning! You bring me joy. . .

elizabeth said...

Wonderful post. You made me laugh so hard. I can't even imagine the camp thing...rips my heart out to think about. Oh, and if you find the "Drama Camp" please let me know because I have two of those over here at my house!

Eliz

wendymom said...

J,
ME is actually attending a drama camp in town this week, no joke, it is actually near you. . I can tell you about it later. My little S is at camp and comes home Friday, I feel like I am so lonely without her, even though everyone else is here, something is truly missing.

Wendy

Joni said...

M-
Yep. That's Mary Mac.

You're gonna have to send advice this way about surviving the dramatics of little girls.

Joni said...

Elizabeth-
See Wendy's comment above.

Sounds like the two of us should fill out some applications this week.

But I wonder if monkey fits would fit into their idea of drama?

Joni said...

Tricia-
I fully expect that Chase will have on the same underwear that he did on Sunday. And the same shirt and the same shorts....

Anonymous said...

Joni-
The pictures brought tears! Please sign Lucas up for drama camp. There is no happiness in our home with "the brothers" away!!!
Kara

Emmy said...

Hi Joni-
Just talked to Wendy and am SO excited you are going to San Antonio! We are going to have so much fun! I Can't wait! : )
I totally understand the camp thing... my son and both my daughters are at camp : ( ... and my oldest is going to Argentina with the youth group tomorrow... anyway I don't really know what to do with myself without any kids... I told my husband I feel as if I have no purpose! I feel so lost! It has really exercised my faith because every time I worry I have to give it to God... I think ok God you love them more than me! I know you have all of them in the palm of your hand! And the good thing is that He does! So refreshing!
Have an awesome day! Emmy : )

Joni said...

Emmy -
I'm trying to be a big girl about the camp thing but not having much success. I think this is what it means to have growing pains....children keep growing and mommies continue to feel the pain
. : )
I look forward to San Antonio! Yippee!!