I miss my kids.
They’re at camp having the time of their life. Right before we dropped them back at camp after a lovely visiting day, they simultaneously broke into their camp Fight Song. They LOVE it, and it gives them such an amazing opportunity to take part in activities that I could never offer them at home: sailing, archery, tackle football, windsurfing, bonfire-building, color war (yeah, it’s an unfortunate name, but no one, not one child believes that color war has ANYTHING to do with actual war).
I’m incredibly lucky to be able to give them this experience, and even more lucky that they blossom in this environment: they aren’t homesick, they’re well-liked, they stay out of trouble. Brian even won the award for best camper in his age-group after his first summer.
It even makes me understand why some parents might choose to send their kids to boarding school for high school. Not that I’m planning on that.
But it all comes with a price: I have to be willing to let go, or perhaps, to quote a now-cheesey 80’s song, to “hold on loosely”. I want so much to give an example here, and there is a story behind this thought. But I fear that someone I know might read this and see herself and be offended. Suffice it to say that when we give our kids space to grow, when we allow them to set reasonable boundaries, we give them an incredible gift. And yeah, I am patting myself on the back here. At least I’m not congratulating myself for an impressive yoga pose or a long run, which I have done plenty of over the years. This is the real deal. Helping to mold citizens of our world.
I just hope (and even pray?) that my kids continue along as successfully as they have been. I just finished this book by Anita Shreve: Testimony. In it, one terrible choice by a small group of of teenagers leads to terrible, far-reaching consequences. The plot was riveting, despite that the character development was full of holes. I kept wondering after I finished it, what can I do as a parent to help my kids to make the right choices? How much of it is in my control, versus what is essentially and fundamentally IN them?
I guess all I can do as a parent is to try to provide a safe environment in which my kids can grow, and pay enough attention to them that they don’t need to try to “get” my attention by acting out, but not SO much attention that they feel stifled or guilty for growing up, or worse, unable to function fully among other kids. (Again, I am alluding to something I can’t really discuss here.) And to keep it to myself when I miss my “babies” as babies, as toddlers who called me “mama”, as tiny blueprints of people who saw me as the most important person in their lives.
I guess that’s why I have a dog now. He’ll always be my baby, utterly dependent on me.
My kids – if I am to be a good parent, I have to let them grow up and discover and enjoy other people who give them what they need.