Her entire fifth grade class left this morning for science camp. They get to spend five days in the San Bernardino Mountains, doing science experiments, learning about nature and doing a ton of other cool stuff, like archery and zip-lining.
And no contact with parents is allowed.
No contact. For five, whole days.
I’m a fucking mess.
She was pretty nervous about going, and the last few days have been hard for both of us. Hard for her because she was suffering from anxiety and nerves. She’s never been away from us for that long. Hell, she only started feeling comfortable doing sleep-overs this year, and she’s ten years old. Outwardly, I’ve been supportive and encouraging. I know this is important. I know she needs to spread her wings and begin to learn to be more independent. She needs to see how capable she really is, and that can only be achieved by working through tough stuff. In this case, it’s working through her separation anxiety and realizing that she will be ok and can have fun, even when she’s missing her family. In this sense I’ve done nothing but tell her how much fun she’ll have and what amazing memories she’ll make.
Inwardly, I want to shout and scream and demand that the school bring my baby home now! I can’t believe I paid for this shit! I can’t believe I agreed to let my daughter go two hours away into the mountains and be supervised by people I’ve never met. Doomsday images keep floating through my head. What if there’s an earthquake? THE earthquake? The big one that will supposedly redefine the west coast? How would I get to her? What if there’s a bus crash? What if she meets up with a bear? What if some asshole ten year old from her class shoots her with a goddamn archery arrow? What if one hair on her beautiful head is damaged in any way? I will go ape shit and rip that camp apart looking for retribution, that’s what!
(I’m taking some deep breaths right now.)
This was probably the wrong week for me to give up wine and coffee, but that’s a post for another day.
The truth is that my heart feels like it has a giant hole in it. The house feels empty. The hallways sound hollow. She’s only been gone for twelve hours and her absence has left its mark on all of us. This morning her little brother cried. He loves her so much, and he couldn’t understand why his Bryn was leaving for so many days. I held it together until the bus pulled away from the school. Then I couldn’t stop the tears. Other parents saw me quietly crying, despite my giant sunglasses covering my face. They offered me sympathetic looks and as a few of them tried to talk to me all I could do was put up my hand to ward them off and march home, crying the entire way. My husband held me and offered to take the day off work so we could spend the day together and take my mind off of Bryn’s absence. While I adore his gesture and love him more than words can say, I decided to just keep busy and get on with my day.
A few of the other parents have been thoughtful and kind enough to text and email me today, checking in to see how I was doing. While I truly appreciate their consideration and thoughtfulness, it makes me feel like a giant candy-ass. For fuck’s sake, it’s just camp! My head knows this, so why does my heart feel like it will be ten thousand years before I see her again?
We’re a close family, and we don’t like to be separated. I’m so thankful for that. I’m so thankful that our family unit is so connected that when one of us is missing, we are all affected. I grew up in a household where that wasn’t the case, so I am doubly appreciative of the bond my husband and I share with our children and with each other. It’s priceless.
So, I am now trying to banish the ugly, apocalyptic thoughts racing through my head and find the silver lining. I’m trying to focus on the good things that will come from her week at camp. She will learn how to manage a bit without me. She will learn to be more independent and self-assured. She will learn how to keep track of her own stuff. She will learn how to pack her own damn suitcase when it’s time to come home. And, for the love of God, if one of her friends actually manages to teach her how to do her own hair, then it will be worth every tear shed and every expensive dollar that it cost to send her there.
So, if you feel like contributing, I would love to hear your best camp story. 🙂