We are continually wondering if there is anything in the mail for us from the kids.
As they are 3.241.3km away, and we live in a mountain town where mail can take a while to get through the snowy pass and past ornery big horn sheep, there have been more days of nothing than something. Last week however we received the following (I’d misplaced it and just found again today), which is quite simply the best piece of mail I’ve ever received.
On the back was written:
Today I almost died. The day, August 4th, I was on a cook out and the horse got stung by a bee and freaked out and I fell off and got stood on my knee and got dragged and I thought I was going to die. I really really thought I was going to die. – Love Ben
I absolutely love the drawing. The placement of the bee, the motion of the fast running horse, the position of my son. I do wonder however, why he’s drawn himself in what looks suspiciously like a prison jump suit…
When the words “summer camp” are uttered, there is much that gets wrapped up around them. Glee and excitement in some kids, sheer terror in other kids. They can be places of immense freedom and personal growth and can build independence when they are of the overnight variety. Laura Clydesdale wrote an excellent post on the virtues of summer camp that you can read here.
For the parents of kids attending overnight camp there is also a great deal wrapped up in those words. Initially there is the stress of booking the right time, ensuring friends can be in the same cabin, searching for all the bits and pieces that were last year’s camp trunk and then sourcing all the new replacements for this year’s camp trunk. We fret about the weather, the friends our kids will make, how safe they’ll be and if they will enjoy themselves. Finally we deliver them to their home away from home and depart (in some cases amidst an outpouring of tears – theirs, and perhaps sometimes ours), back to life with just the two of us.
The early days of overnight camp awesomeness are immediately evident. The pleading, negotiating, bickering and nagging – all gone! Meals can be made with spices that allow the food to taste interesting. TV can be watched at ridiculous hours. Our bedtime routine revolves around ourselves, not someone else. Bliss.
And then, it happens. Despite yearning for peace and quiet and the ability to do what we want, when we want, it starts to feel empty. The house feels empty. There isn’t as much dirt to sweep up, yelling to shush and food to haggle over. When we first became parents we had no idea what was expected of us or what we were supposed to do. As time wore on, roles got more clearly defined. Now, there is a purpose in what we do. We derive great joy from experiencing life through and with our kids and when they’re not there, well, I suppose I just don’t feel whole.
So, hurry up camp and bring my kids back.
But first I’ll just finish Stranger Things…
Our kids are away at camp and as any parent who has sent their kids to overnight camp knows, there is a ton of planning and a decent amount of stress associated with getting ready and delivering our children to their home away from home. This year we were lucky enough to stay with our dear friends in Ontario, at their lake access cottage. Their daughters attend the same camp as ours and all four girls had their bags packed, their backpacks set and their camp uniforms on. After getting dropped off at the dock it was but a short walk to the car and we’d whisk them away. Alas, a smooth getaway was not to be. Moments after seeing the kids walk across the dock we heard a “SPLASH!” I looked at my wife and we both knew who had fallen in.
Panic could have ensued. Shouting could have occurred. Tears could have been shed. Instead, my amazing daughter stated what had happened had happened and all that could be done was to clean up and move forward. I made a point of addressing both families and acknowledging that to a person, any other of us in my daughter’s position would have lost it. Maturity and confidence are qualities we as parents are constantly trying to build in our children. On a summer’s day, in a lake in Muskoka, we saw those qualities in action and despite the wet gear, that felt pretty good.
I walk Indy at least 3 times a day. I’m pretty lucky because I can walk out from my backyard into a marvellous network of trails. We’ve had a bumper crop of buffalo berries this year thanks to a mild winter and lots of rain this spring and summer. Lots of berries means lots of bears and today we came across our first grizzly. Grizzlies have been making a name for themselves locally over the last month, chasing cyclists in the nordic trails and generally being pretty ornery. Fair game. They need this time to eat as much as possible to prepare for the winter so I don’t judge their temper. Indy saw the bear first, hackles up, growling. The bear saw us, Indy barked, and it ran. Away from us (thankfully). The heart beat definitely quickened but I stayed cool, brought out my bear spray and walked away and back home as fast as I could. This is one neighbour you don’t want to get on the wrong side of!