This summer we were fortunate enough to get our eldest son enrolled in a Summer Camp that is completely dedicated to traveling. Each day our son, along with about 100 other pre-teens and teens travel to a new location. These trips can range from visiting a museum or an amusement park to hiking in the Adirondacks or white water rafting. Everyday presents a new adventure which is perfect for my son, who loves to always be on the go.
So on the first day of camp, I was just as excited as he was for this great opportunity. My excitement was probably more visible, because as you know, according to the “Teen Code”, showing any sign of excitement over anything is totally lame. But I knew he was excited because for the entire month leading up to camp, he could not stop looking at the itinerary.
But either way, as we drove to the meeting grounds, I gave him the rundown of my expectations of him and all the regular “overprotective” mom speeches:
“ Stay with your group when you are in large places”, “Make sure you listen for instructions when your group leader speaks”, and so on and so on.
As he nodded on with each point, we pulled up to the front of the building and I began to scan the area for parking. The car hadn’t come to a full stop before my son says, “Okay mom, bye.” “Umm, sorry mister,”I had to quickly burst his bubble,” It’s the first day of camp. I’d like to meet the counselors, perhaps see who some of the campers are, and perhaps just show my face to let them know that there is some type of parental unit attached to the camper.” You would have thought that I told him that I’d like to go with him and be his trip buddy, holding hands and everything. “Fine”, he said, slumping back in his seat.
After parking the car we entered the camp main building and walked towards the large cluster of people standing in the lobby, which actually turned out to be two separate groups. There was a group of teens in one huddle and then pressed along side the wall on the other side of the room was a small group of parents who were obviously asked to keep their distance as if they needed to be quarantined. My son quickly noticed the separation and very nicely requested that I stand amongst the other parents.
“Mom, there are no parents over in this area” he said speaking from the side of his mouth and looking straight ahead because God forbid we look like we are actually together.
I assured him that I wouldn’t linger too long, that I just wanted to find out a few more things. I proceeded to get the answers I was seeking from the director of the program, and he informed me that the buses to transport the campers to their first destination was about 15 minutes away. I decided that since my son was making a conscious effort to keep his distance from me, that I too would follow his lead and join this covert op. I moved like a ninja to his side watching over my shoulder to make sure that no other teen could see me speaking to the child that has the same exact face as mine. I faced my back to his back and whispered to him that his bus would be arriving at 0800 and that when he arrived back to the camp building, I would be placed inconspicuously around the corner, slumped down in the drivers seat so that we could make a fast break later on that evening. He quickly understood my message and gave a head nod while also surveying the area. He then turned his body halfway to face me and gave me what could only be considered a hug of some sort. It was so quick, by the time I realized what had happened, he had already slipped through the crowd and sat down to wait for his bus. I watched from a distance, careful not to let him see me watching him.
15 minutes later all campers were told to line up outside as the buses had now arrived. I followed the group, noting the bus number, and the driver behind the wheel. But I especially noted the confidence with which my son moved along the line as he prepared for his first traveling camp adventure with a group that he’s never been with. I noted that I have a child who is no longer a baby although he will always be my baby. And I noted that as he is growing, I am also growing, and growth is good.
As he got closer and closer to the entrance of the bus, I had a sudden urge to run, grab him and hug him like I did when he was little. But I fought the urge, cause I knew that he would “never” forgive me for that one. So instead, I walked in his direction as if I were walking pass him. And just as he was about step on the bus, I stuck out my fist. He noticed me immediately and did the same. As our fists bumped, I mouth the words, “I love you”. And though he didn’t say it back, the small smile that came to the corner of his mouth said everything that my heart needed to hear. And I walked away proud of myself, knowing that I am a pretty awesome mom to a pretty cool pre-teen. And thus begins my own journey into the world of teenagers.
Talk to you soon,
Share with me: When did you first realize that it might be time to let go just a little bit?