Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Camp. The sequel.

With no casualties from last year’s 2 night, 3 day stay at camp, we upped ante this summer.  Sam would return to camp for a 4 night, 5 day stay. We were feeling confident knowing he’d be sharing a bunk with pals Conner and Joey. The camp staff would be familiar. And most important of all (and perhaps surprising), they were welcoming us back.

Preparation began early by showing pictures from last year and talking up the experience. Sam, not buying, responded with, “No Camp. Tomorrow Camp.”  On departure day, “No camp, Mommy! No sleep in the bunk!. Turn around! Go home,” was the mantra for the entire ride north. Admittedly not the words I'd hoped to hear.  

We arrived to a cheerful staff welcome. In response, Sam bolted out the back door, let out a primal scream and ran across the field in protest. OK, definitely not the the reaction I wanted.

Protest acknowledged, Sam composed himself and offered a brief and very serious goodbye. I assured him I would return on Saturday, reminding him (and myself) of the fun he would have playing basketball, swimming and roasting marshmallows, wisely omitting the electronics free part.

On the car ride home, I missed Sam’s endless chatter. It was all but impossible to fill the void of a far too quiet house. What was Sam doing, I wondered. Just as I was sure I’d crack under the pressure of no communication it was time for pickup.

So what happened during camp this year? Good question. I was wondering about that, too. Sam, not one for details, offered up the following:

            "Sleep in the bunk. Red boat. It floats. Eat scramble eggs.
            Eat grilled cheese sandwich. Swim in the water.
            By the mountain the lake. Emily, she sleep in the bunk."

After 5 days without an
electronic device in sight.

Later on Facebook he posted: "No camping. Stay home. Use sam's iPod. iPad. No swimming. Stay home. Sam's bed. Feel good. Stay with mommy. Watch t.v." I believe this to be Sam's formal protest to the inhumane conditions of exercise, fresh air and healthy eating.  Suffice to say he is happy to be home to his world of electronics and chocolate.

My take? From all reports he had a great time. Turns out he knows how to tie his shoes, too, so score one for independence. And reunions are a beautiful thing. Ours was straight out of a movie: the moment Sam spotted me he leapt up and ran. Within seconds all 218 pounds of him was wrapped in my arms. I’m telling you it was epic.

Will there be another stay at camp? Probably. But that’s not until next year. We have another whole year to prepare. 

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Independence Day

Sam, what day is today?
July 4th, Sam’s birthday. Happy birthday, Sam.
How old are you now? 
No Sam, what comes after sixteen? 
Sam, you are too young to be lying about your age.
Listen. What comes AFTER sixteen? 

What should we do today?
See fire engine water fight. 
See fireworks. Red. Blue. Yellow. Green.
Blow out the birthday candles. Eat cake. 
Eat cake, Mommy! Chocolate cake!

My Yankee Doodle Sam is 17. Yikes. How did that happen?

As the country observes Independence Day, we celebrate Sam’s birthday. This year will bring a different twist as we focus, appropriately enough, toward independence. Sam will spend significant time learning to navigate the big world ahead of him. We will ready him for new experiences and broader horizons. And I will begin to learn how to let go.

It is a daunting agenda that scares me.

But all of that is for tomorrow. Today is for celebrating the handsome boy ever at my side; for acknowledging how very far he has come. It is a day for reveling in Sam's smile and knowing all is right with the world. It is the very best day of the year.

We will cheer the fire engine's annual water fight. At dusk we will watch the sky light up with our arms around each other. “Sam! Look up at the sky.” I will say, “Is it beautiful?” He will tell me the colors he sees: red, blue, white yellow and green. I will notice how tall he has grown and then I will tell him the fireworks are exclusively for him. He will smile broadly in belief.  And I will once again delight in the innocence of his trust.

Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Today we celebrate all that is right: Sam, water fights and fireworks. There will be off key singing, candles and cake. And yes, Sam, chocolate cake. 

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