Last week Sadie and Josie went to a weeklong day camp offered by the City of Mentor. Unless you count The Eagle’s Nest at the supermarket, it was the first time they had ever been left alone by me with people that I don't really know. They were just a little bit apprehensive, since I had explained that I’d be dropping them off each day instead of staying there with them.
I have to admit that even though I did my homework on the camp itself, the leader of said camp and the history of the programs the city offers, I was still somewhat of a nervous wreck the first day.
We got up early, had a protein-laden breakfast and got everyone loaded into the car. As I buckled their little sister and baby brother into their respective car seats, I went over the checklist with Sadie and Josie.
“Shorts and T-shirt?” “Check.”
“Sunscreen and bug spray?” “Check.”
“Water bottle with your name on it?” “Check.”
“Snacks and ponytail holders?” “Check.”
On the way there, I must have told them 20 times not to leave their class for ANY reason. To stay WITH their class at ALL times. To ONLY talk to their teacher and counselors and fellow campers. To ONLY go potty during designated potty breaks.
Once we arrived and I checked them in, they deposited their water bottles and approached the group forming in the grassy field. Tentatively, they checked out all of the potential new friends. Some kids were crying for their moms; one little girl was actually holding on to her mother’s leg like you see in cartoons.
My girls seemed to have no problem with leaving me once they saw the soccer balls and water balloons. They each gave me a kiss and a hug and bounded away through the dewy grass to await instructions from someone in charge.
I’m glad that they don’t suffer from separation anxiety, but as I left them with the whistle-wielding instructor, the giggling bunch of kids and the harried counselors, it was difficult. Not for them, though. For me.
I turned back to look at them, standing there on the sidelines of the soccer field and bouncing from one foot to the other. Josie reached over and took Sadie’s hand. Seeing them there, I watched from a distance as these two little people – people that I grew in my own body, under my own heart – existed and did just fine and dandy without me. I felt an actual ache inside. The ache was somewhere in the vicinity of my heart. It’s silly, I know.
Each day was a little better than the one before, and by the end of the week, we had successfully developed a routine. The girls had a blast and I (though still kind of nervous each day as I drove away) was able to leave not only the parking lot but actually drive down the street!
Now, camp is over. They learned, they made friends, they had fun. We made it through.
And I think I’m more proud of myself than I am of them.