I read this post followed by this post in preparation for the upheaval to come my way this past week. Ambitiously I thought revisiting the experience would somehow soften the blow to my maternal gut, maybe loosen the knots of my anxious apron strings, and possibly slacken the white-knuckled grip on my offspring.
It didn’t help. Not. One. Little. Bit.
Camp is not for sissy mommys. It’s not a place to quell the fear of the unknown, or question the number of times underwear will be changed. There’s no room for weak, lip-quivering goodbyes, or provisions for desperate requests to sleep in the bottom half of your child’s bunk, despite vain promises to remain so quiet no one will ever notice.
I am a sissy mommy and I possess very little shame about it.
To make matters worse, and my sedative prescription stronger, this year we sent our rising second grader to camp along with his big brother. Read that again: A SECOND GRADER.
Chandler –said abandoned, seven year old – began talking about the idea several months ago after finding out that several of his friends would be attending the camp. I initially squashed the idea in the same emphatic way I squashed the scary looking spider in my bathroom, citing a litany of reasons, but one in particular I thought would be especially convincing. Without remorse, indignity or even the slightest hesitancy, I told Chandler that if he went to camp he would starve and die.
About right now, you may be questioning my parental prowess. You may even wonder if I have enough sense to be a parent at all. But hear me out on this - Chandler is very picky and really only eats two types of foods: sugar and preservatives. The occasional meat stick provides questionable protein, but for the most part, Chandler has gladly remained outside the perimeters of the food pyramid with little intention of future infiltration.
I patiently explained to Chandler that at camp he would be hungry which would make him miserable which would make him lonely which would make him miss me and his stash of all things processed in the pantry. So the best course of action for him this year, I reasoned, and probably until he graduated from college, was to remain with his mama.
Upset that he would miss out on all the fun with his friends, Chandler made a concerted effort to introduce new tastes to his sugar-addicted palate. He began trying exotic, sophisticated foods like spaghetti and tacos and hamburgers, twitching and gagging with each bite, strangely resembling the contestants on Fear Factor minus the teased hair, whitened teeth and obvious enhancements.
Chandler begged and pleaded and cried and gorged himself on tacos for weeks until we finally relented, and signed him up for the five days of camp that would send my gastrointestinal tract into disrepair.
With mounting trepidation and ingestion of an entire roll of Rolaids, I reluctantly drove Chase and Chandler to camp. They were excited and happy to joyfully reunite with their South Carolina friends.....
...unloading their sleeping bags in their respective bunks.....
...while I rocked maniacally in a corner of the cabin, my body curled in the fetal position.(Not really. But I was so doing it in my mind.)
We said our long goodbyes without the expected dramatics, and then I blubbered all the way home.
The second day of camp, Chandler wrote the following letter:
I am having a great time. There is food I like, but I really miss you. I don’t want to go to camp next year. I love you, Chandler.
Check the back.
I love you.
Come pick me up.
COME PICK ME UP.
My gastrointestinal tract will never be the same.
(part two tomorrow)