All parents come to a stage where they want their kids to become independent and yet when the little things start to flutter their wings we want to snatch them back and hide them under our wings. I had one of these moments last week when my 8 year old went for a five day nature camp – (read: five days without me!) I think the excitement he displayed and the fear he showed was more for my benefit than any real anticipation.
It began with me making a list of things he would need during his camp…or let’s just say ‘things I thought he will need’. Most of the stuff I packed – raincoat (they had predicted rains!), socks, snacks, shampoo, etc. – came back unused. I worried how he will pass the four-hour drive – he made friends in the bus itself. I gave him tetra packs of milk – one for each morning – he had hot chocolate with his new friends. I worried he won’t get any sleep on a new bed – he slept all alone on his bunk bed and snuggled with one of the volunteers when he had a nightmare.
At first I was curious about his days there. Being so used to planning all his activities throughout the day, it was strange not knowing what he would be doing. I know I sound like a complete control freak! I did not know what to do. Maybe I should have given him a bigger bag, maybe I should have packed some more snacks, maybe…so many things I should have done and had not done. Shocking stories one hears about older kids bullying young ones started plaguing me the moment he was out of sight. I actually had a minor panic attack the day he left. My husband quietly held my hand and gave me the space I needed to let it wash over me. And then he told me it was going to be okay.
And you know what…it was okay. We survived! After the first day or two I was okay with not knowing what he was doing. I felt guilty about it. Maybe I should have been worried, sad, anxious, but I was not. Was I betraying my son by not feeling sad about him not being with me. I think not. Was I disappointed the camp had not called me once during the five days saying my son was missing me? Maybe a little ;-). My son came back all black and brown, with dirt under his finger nails and mud in his hair. But best thing he got with him was a huge smile on his elfin face!!! And that is priceless.