My kids are coming home tomorrow, and I am as anxious and insecure as I was the first time I brought them home from Beth Israel Hospital to my apartment on the Upper East Side. Will they still like me? Will we still have anything in common? Have they grown apart from me? Will they be disappointed in the house? In their rooms? In the fact that we still haven’t gotten a flat screen television or even a sofa for the family room? Or finished the basement so that they can have a lounge of their own? Or worked out the kinks in our Optimum service such that we actually have a television that works for more than a day or two? Or set up X-Box in the Upstairs Den? Or stocked the house with refreshments that I figured out they wanted by virtue of ESP? Or lined up playdates for them with their friends? Or met ANYONE up here at all, let along anyone who has kids the same age as them? Will we have anything to talk about? Will they resent being home when camp was so much fun? Will they just want to lie around, watching sports in Brian’s case, and playing his Nintendo DS in Adam’s case? Will the still get along well with Lewis the Bagle?
When I first brought Brian home from the hospital, I was 31 years old, physically traumatized (I had a very hard time delivering him, and insane, now-outmoded methods were used, such as vacuum extractio) and completely unprepared. I had read “The Book” on What to Expect When You’re Expecting. But I hadn’t even bought the the next “The Book”, which was “What to Expect The First Year”. For me, there was only the pregnancy. Suddenly, now, there was this human being whom I did not know at all, beyond some shady details of his sleeping, stretching and hiccuping habits over the period of less than six months when those habits were discernable. My husband and I set down his little car seat carrier on the entry hall of our apartment and looked at each other, bewildered.
“We don’t even know him yet,” my husband said.
“Do you think it would be okay if we got some sushi?” I asked, glancing at this tiny ginger-haired lightbulb wrapped in a yellow knit travel suit and strapped into a u-shaped chair.
Truthfully, it’s not that I thought that Brian would mind if we ordered sushi; it’s just that I had no idea what I was supposed to do if he started wailing while I wasin the middle of eating it. Dinner that night was fast and tasteless.
Later on, we got to know him. And then we got to know his brother, who, to our surprise, was far more accessible to us and far easier to get to know. Differences in personalities? Or just more experienced parenting? I’ll never know, but my hunch is that the difference was in the children, not the parents.
It wasn’t easy though, any of those baby stages. Getting to know a brand new human being who can’t talk, can’t walk, can’t feed himslf but who clearly has preferences about everything…well, it’s a trying time. And then one day, I looked behind myself and realized that it was all very far away, very much in the past. My two boys were hardly mysterious anymore, and they loved me for reasons they could explain, and reasons that made no sense to them (upon asking Adam, not long ago, why he loves me, he said, “because all kids have to love their moms”).
Now, they’ve been away for seven weeks, having the time of their life. I look at the photos that are still popping up on their camp website, and it amazes me that there is this thing called “camp”, where children live in barracks with young adult strangers taking care of them, where the lake is always within view, where baseball, soccer, football and hockey fields constantly beckon, where sailing, windsurfing, kayaking are actually possibilities for landlocked east coasters, where chores are more or less optional, where feeding the camp dog earns you pizza points…I could go on and on and on. But suffice it to say, the real world can’t possibly hold a candle. And coming home cannot be an easy transition for children as well-adjusted and secure as mine (brag, brag)
The insecure one is me. I was never particularly worried about how they would adjust to camp. My concern is how they will adjust to home. Hopefully, I’m just being silly, with too much time on my hands for spinning thoughts.
Just in case, though, I am making a Boston Creme Pie tonight and have plans to take the kids to Burger King for lunch…Can’t do those things at camp….