In case you are new to my blog or you don’t know me personally, you will need to go back to the blog post “Lost in Translation” to get a glimpse of where I am today. Long story short, Bryan got lost at camp last year and the camp covered it up. I only found out by a chance encounter in the Greenville, SC airport with a wonderful woman whose family rescued Bryan from what could have been a treacherous situation.
So, you may say, why send him to sleepaway camp again? First of all, it’s a totally different camp. We believe in the benefits of sleepaway camp for kids to have fun, grow and just learn how to get out from under the control of their parents. Not only do you have to be responsible for your things, you must be responsible for your emotional and social self too. Besides, it is really a Jewish kid’s rite of passage if nothing else. My emotions have truly shocked me for the last few days. I thought I would have an element of relief when Bryan got to camp. I did not bring him so I didn’t get to see the place but I had seen the DVD and Earl took pictures. My feelings can only be described as a guilty fearful nausea anxiety filled panic. Last year we trusted people with Bryan and they lied to us. I know logically that not all people do this; most people who deal with our kids know the importance, the significance, of trust between parent and caregiver but I feel like my ability to judge is not trustworthy either. As the mom I feel like, what did I miss in the vetting process last time? Did I catch it this time? He arrived at camp on Saturday, we have called each night since then to check on him and his progress. The info they have given sounds consistent with what we know about how Bryan handles stress. We are beyond proud of him. We know he is slowly but surely warming to the place and by end of the week will have emerged as the great camper and smiley boy we adore. But here is the weird thing. I have been having nonstop waterworks since he left. The challenge is not really about whether or not he will be ok there. Of course he will be ok. It is a wonderful place filled with people whose entire goal is to get him to participate and succeed. My issue, which took me a few days to figure out, has nothing to do with the camp. It is about my relationship with Bryan. He trusts me completely and I need for him to know in his heart that I did not turn my back on him by sending him there. It is out of love, respect and wanting him to be the best boy he can be. He was not “harmed” last summer by what happened, thankfully. However, because he is such an intuitive boy, I know he knows that I was devastated by what happened. Jason always talks about it too, embracing my emotions and offering up his own fearfulness for Bryan. He knows in his heart he has not been sent away; he knows Jason is going for 6 weeks too, so it is certainly not about not wanting him around. Because he cannot truly express his feelings to me, I need to dig deeper and focus on the moments where he looks me in the eye and we connect in a way that I know he is in there; not to be too sappy but at those moments I feel electricity between us. We went over everything before he left. Last night when I spoke to one of the folks at the camp she said for some kids they need to learn that they are going home at the end of camp. That is not Bryan’s issue. He knows exactly when we are coming for visiting day and exactly when he is going home. Although he is at a new camp, he knows you go to camp and then you go home. Mean what you say and say what you mean. We always do that with him. He also knows that we expect him to cope and cope well. Earl always tells him “you’re a big boy” and he knows that he has to “man up”. Earl can get him to understand the difference between behaving like a little boy and taking hold of himself and acting like the 12 year old he really is, it’s amazing, truly. Although I am sad and fearful, I do not want that to rub off on him or take away from the feeling that Earl and I share about never underestimating who he is and who he will be.