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Friday, June 25, 2010

A Little Bit of Freedom

The trunk is open but packed, the duffel bag is in the same state. There are books and journals and stationery and stamps, too. We're all packing up our togs, preparing to take our 6th grader down to the city for the weekend and then put her on the bus to overnight camp Sunday morning. Gulp.

She has the good sense to tell me that she's not exactly excited about it, because she doesn't know what it's going to be like, but that she is looking forward to the experience. Trusting her father and me that because we loved sleepover camp, she will, too. She certainly believed me when I told her that I wanted her to have the chance to do all those fun camp things like campfires and swamping canoes, horseback riding and buying candy at the canteen.

Honestly, sleepover camp was heaven for me, but I had reasons to get away, and my parents were glad to see me go. Honestly, I hope she loves it, but I also don't want my girl to want to fly too far away from me. From us. I know it's good -- independence, I mean. I also know it's a very American thing, this assumption that independence is good. I also think closeness is good, too. I will admit to pre-emptive strategic thinking about the optimal place to live once my children are grown so that they will at least want to visit frequently, if not to settle there themselves.

There have been troubling reminders of immortality and impermanence in the news lately. I am thinking of that poor girl who drowned last week on a class trip on Long Island. It cuts a little close to home, because one of our family friends was in the same class with her and was on the beach when it happened. Makes me a little more aware of my fears for my children, especially when they are out of my sight.

But. It is good to let her go off on this adventure. It was wonderful for me, and at the very least, it will teach her that she has some capabilities of which she might not have been aware. And I am a little bit proud of myself, that despite my anxieties, despite any helicoptering I may have been guilty of over the years, my child is ready and happy to try all kinds of new things. She told me one skill she wanted to learn this summer was archery. Camp has archery. I try to believe that the targets are well-placed where stray arrows will do no harm. "Do you want to try horseback riding?" I asked. "Sure, why not?" she said, blowing me away with her insouciance. So she's got boots and a nice, sturdy helmet in her trunk, and I am trying to forget the horseshoe-shaped bruise in the thigh that my old friend Laurie got one summer when she was at camp.

Horseback riding? What was I thinking?


  1. Hope - I loved overnight camp too! I spent 5 summers as a camper and then 6 more as a counselor. And I taught Archery of all things! It is *very* safe - I promise. :) Chrysti

  2. Never went to sleep away camp, so can't comment on that, but have you seen the recent storyline in the Pajama Diaries comic strip? The older girl is gone to camp, which has led to the younger girl wanting a lot more attention from the parents. I hope that doesn't happen to you!

  3. I loved archery at Boy Scout camp. The .22 range was also fun. Will they have rifles where daughter #1 is going?

    - TAL

  4. TAL no rifles!!!! You're a devilish troublesome man, you are!
    Actch, we had riflery at my camp and i always signed up for it - because it was easy to cut, no one cared, and i've always been one for unstructured free time in the afternoon.