My husband is an organized, productive person. He’s a list maker. I’ve watched him over the years, writing down all the various things he needs to get done. He makes little boxes next to each item, which he checks off once he completes the task. I’ve always been in awe, and I admit, a little intimidated by his lists. I find myself on the opposite end of the spectrum, preferring to go through my days getting things done as they arise, planning it out in my mind and going from there. But as life has become more hectic, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for the list. In the notes app of my iPhone, I now keep an ever changing “To Do” list. I guess you could call me a list convert of sorts, which came in handy while preparing to send C off to camp.
Getting him ready required a whole new genre of list making. There was the packing list provided by the camp that was extremely helpful. This list gave birth to a Target list of the various clothing items, toiletries, water bottles and sunscreen that he would need. And then of course there was the camping store list for the random things that just could not be purchased anywhere else, in spite of my attempts to do one stop shopping at Target. But there’s one list no one provided to me as I embarked on my journey of being a mom with a child at overnight camp. It’s the list that could tell me what it’s actually like to have a child away from home for the first time. After two weeks of C being there, I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert. But I have come up with my own little list of all the things I wish I knew before sending him off to sleep away camp.
- I wish I knew that the daily photos the camp posts would become an obsession. They don’t upload until after 11 p.m., but that’s not an issue for this night owl. Analyzing them has taken on a life of its own. I stare at the pictures of him, examining pixel by pixel to see if he’s wearing his own clothes, if he’s changed his clothes the next day (yes!), if he looks happy, who he’s with, and if it looks like he’s actually participating in the activity at hand.
- I wish I knew that those same photos I obsess over also should not be taken too seriously. They’re only snapshots after all. A parent with older campers recently described them to me as just a moment in time without all the context. And so there might be a day where C isn’t in any photos; or a day when he’s the only one not making a silly face, even though all his bunkmates are sticking out their tongues and crossing their eyes. It’s taken some fretting sessions on my part, but I now realize these situations don’t mean that he’s miserable. The camp will notify me if that’s the case. So far, so good.
- Letters home: I wish I knew how to get more details from the sparse lines he writes to us. What exactly do his words mean? One letter starts this way: Dear Mom, I had a terrible shower experience. Here are my activities… Wait. Back up. Define terrible shower experience. Too cold? A massive shampoo spill? Did someone bother him? Right after reading this letter, I dash off an e-mail to C to try to get quick answers. The camp prints and distributes e-mails daily, so I know he saw my questions. Yet that was days ago, and I’m still here wondering exactly what happened.
- I wish I knew how he was going to spend his down time since he’s not allowed to have screens at camp. I love that policy. But it turns out now instead of filling his free time with Minecraft, he’s using it to play Blackjack. For gum. Hmm… Which poison to pick: Video games or gambling? At least Blackjack involves math.
- I wish I knew how much I was going to miss C. Of course I figured that would happen going into this whole ordeal. Check out last week’s post for all those details. But I didn’t understand certain times would be more intense than others, and I wouldn’t be able to anticipate them. The one relief from that longing has been sharing those feelings with my husband. We seem to be simpatico with the tougher bouts of missing C. Our syncing provides comfort for me and a new kind of bonding for us. I’m grateful for that.
- I wish I knew that while summer flies by when you are a kid at camp, it only seems to mosey when it’s your kid who is away. In certain ways these past two weeks have gone quickly. On the other hand, I can’t believe C’s only been away for two weeks! It feels like so much more! Even his six-year-old sister agrees. She says it feels like at least 12 weeks have gone by since he left for camp.
- I wish I knew how my other kids would react to their older brother being away. People ask me if having three kids is indeed simpler than four. Truthfully? Not really. I’ve managed to put all three who are home on the same schedule during the day, so that does make things more manageable. But when we’re all gathered together inside the house, it still feels as hectic as ever. Maybe even more so.
- I wish I knew how calming C’s presence can be. He’s easy going in general, and he loves music. That combination makes for a winning DJ. Whenever life around here gets to be at too high or too low a decibel level, he cranks up the tunes. They seem to have a calming or energizing effect, depending on the situation. We’ve needed more music these past couple of weeks.
- I wish I knew how much I miss peanut butter. OK, that one’s self serving, I confess. C is my kid with a peanut allergy, and since he’s the oldest, we haven’t had peanut butter in the house for years. Because of how allergic he is, I myself pretty much avoid it all together when he’s home. But this summer I’ve been inhaling all things peanut whenever possible, and I admit to savoring every morsel.
- I wish I knew that planning for the fall with a child at overnight camp makes that whole scheduling thing even more daunting. While C and I discussed activities before he left, the pictures show him doing new things at camp all the time. Will his interests have changed by the time he comes home? Then again, isn’t camp all about trying new things? It doesn’t mean he’s going to want to do them here. I guess I can go ahead and make his schedule according to last year’s activities. This isn’t camp after all. But I bet he’ll come home wishing that it was.
This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “I Wish I Knew…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Mardra from Mardra Sikora and Jill from Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.