Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Day Camp

 When the kids were little, the summer days rolled endlessly into one another until I couldn’t tell what day it was.  Marie and Thomas did not like the any of the same things so it seemed that no one was happy at the same time.   Nap schedules and early bedtimes and early rise times had us on lockdown. 

Life was gut-wrenchingly difficult and blissfully easy at the same time.

Our life looks nothing like that anymore.

Last week, the kids were in summer day camp.   They each got to go to one camp that was centered on something that they love.  Marie chose a really cool writing camp, and Thomas went to an animal camp since he wants to be a vet and is obsessed with animal books.

It’s exciting to see them dive into their passion, and it reminds me of how far we have come from those first summers together as a family.  And as much as I like to be there with them when they experience something new, I realize the importance of them have adventures on their own.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer camp
Loved hearing all about their day over some strawberry shortcake.
It seems that they remembered the details of the day when they had some sugar.

I embrace the spirit of summer and want my kids to spread their wings and fly!   Even though I may look calm and serene as they take flight, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.  I mean, how could I not be!? They are my kids, and I take their personal safety very seriously. 

I can say with full confidence that the 21-page welcome letter from Marie’s camp that outlined all of the finest of details made me feel comfortable with her adventures away from home.

But Thomas’s camp sent home nothing.  And it was a travel camp, so when I dropped him off at camp, he was hopping on a bus and going somewhere new every day.  I thought, perhaps, that during the last-days-of-school madness, I misplaced the information.  But when I called the camp nervously asking for the information, the secretary at the camp office said in a very, laid-back kind of way, that they do not post that info on the website since they are not sure where the locations will be until two weeks before.

She joyfully explained that campers, age 6-12, would be going to the county fair and nature parks about 45 minutes away.

I was a little nervous that Thomas would be going so far away, but I was excited that he would be going to places that were no where on my short (or long) list of possible outings with either kid.  Yay! Isn’t that what camp is supposed to be about – new experiences without your mom or dad hovering near by?!

But when the secretary told me that they would be going to a zoo all the way in Lansing, which for non-local peeps is over an hour and a half bus ride away, I freaked the eff out. Thomas, who has just finished Kindergarten, was supposed to go that far away.  In a bus.  With essentially strangers.

I know, I know.  I sound like a helicopter mom.  And I hate that because I do want my kids to be fearless and adventurous.

When I manically questioned the camp director about safety procedures that the camp has to keep track of campers, he essentially told me that my kids would all leave the nest at some point.

But my instincts were telling me no on this part. 

And the thing about instincts - I always question them, especially when someone “in charge” is telling me that I should be cutting the cord already.

Wonder if I deprived him of an experience of a lifetime? 

Wonder if, one day while sitting in a therapist’s chair, he says that I robbed him of his independence and emasculated him at the tender age of six by denying him a field trip to the Lansing zoo?

He came home (safely) from camp each day,and he had a blast!  But then he would also cuddle with me and say that he wanted me to put him down for bed.  The week before that, he said that he misses me  . . . even though we are together all day every day.

Part of being a mom is reading between the lines of what is said and what is not being said.

So I kept him home from camp the day he was supposed to go to Lansing zoo and took him to the Detroit zoo instead.  Just me and him.  

Rare one-on-one time exploring one of his favorite places while his sister was at camp.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer camp
I love this kid!

It felt good that I could give him my undivided attention.  I think he felt good not having to compete for face time with his sister.

erin janda rawlings mommy on the spot summer camp

It just felt right.

And in they days to follow, I didn’t feel like he was hanging on to me – his bucket had been filled, and he was OK to go out and explore without me.

Summer is very much about Thomas and Marie having adventures of their own and figuring out who they are.  But it's also about me paying attention to what they say or don’t say, and then listening to that quiet voice inside to decipher the clues so I can figure out how best to guide them.

Then hoping that I did the right thing.

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