I call this one: Me at Camp with My Friends & Bad Outfits in 1991
Photo Credit: Bloomie (Aka Sari Bloom Shuman)
I don't understand this leaving your kid at camp thing. I just did it and I don't get it.
Oh, yeah sure, I went to camp every summer. I loved it. I LOOOOOOVED it. But that doesn't mean that I'm into it on the flip side.
In the summers of the 80s and 90s, when my mom said, "it aches when you leave," I didn't even hear her. I didn't even register what that phrase could possibly mean. Those words weren't even memories, until today when I felt an all over ache as I walked away from my child.
My child, who waved me goodbye from his perch on his top bunk. My child, who told me, "I think parents are leaving now." My child, who may or may not know how to use a knife to cut up his chicken.
He looked so big today. His eyes were shining and he had this little half smile that was a perfect expression of pride and optimism. What a great summer he's planning to have. What a great summer he will have. Without me.
This is growing up. This is the gift I give him. Go. Stay up late. Don't brush your teeth. Fart. Tell bad jokes, learn bad words, get a crush, play roller hockey, use your flashlight when it's not an emergency, don't put the seat down, swim four times a day, catch bugs and keep them, eat sugar cereal, make up funny nick names for new best friends, put on your own band-aid, dance, nail a free throw, make important bracelets out of yarn, have milk and cookies before bed, paint your face your color during color war, get the shit scared out of you in the middle of the night by a bat in your bunk or a ghost story that won't relinquish its hold on your imagination.
Go. I'll be ok. I'm watching old videos of you when you were very small. I've watched that one from when you were two, counting Daddy's freckles, but calling them nipples, over and over again. It relaxes me.
If you were here right now, I know we'd be making fun of that other mom from today. The one who clearly has a whole room in her house devoted to labeling things. She gave her son a plastic container labeled PENS, PENCILS, & STATIONERY. And then she gave him another plastic container labeled EXTRA PENS, PENCILS & STATIONERY. I gave you an un-labeled pen from the dermatologist's office. I hope you'll write me letters anyway.
I realize somewhere along the way, this turned into a direct address. But it wasn't really meant to be. This was just meant to be a small space to say - "it aches when you leave."