Forty-eight hours up north. We got to Bryan’s camp at lunchtime on Friday. The kids were eating lunch. They asked if we wanted to wait until he was done eating but I couldn’t wait. It was a little selfish and a little impulsive but after waking up at 4:30 in the morning, switching planes because our 7am flight was delayed, I was in no mood to wait. What I saw was both a treat and a reality check. Bryan was sitting at a table with his four counselors and friends and the first thing I saw was a much thinner version of the boy who left for camp eating a cucumber slice and two green beans along with a slice of pizza. Who is this veggie eating child? It was disruptive when we saw him and he got anxious and puked. Oh yeah, that’s my kid. After that he finished eating and we waited in the other room. He was delicious when we got a hold of him. We saw his room and some of the “stuff” he has gotten from us, my sister, my folks, my sister in law, mother in law, my aunt and uncle, etc…People were telling us what a great kid he is and of course we felt proud and confident in our decision to send him. The camp had packed him a bag and off we went. As predicted he wanted me to sit in the back of the car with him and we held hands as we drove to our hotel. Yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We went to the movies and he sat in between us and put all of our hands together. So sweet. We left the theater, went back to the hotel. We stayed at a charming bed and breakfast; the online reviews had raved about the adjoining restaurant. We had made an 8pm dinner reservation. It was rainy and cool and it was nice to know we were not going anywhere after our dinner. We sat down to eat and Earl ordered a scotch and I had a glass of wine. Bryan was giddy with his root beer. He was smiley and relaxed and if I didn’t know better I would think his root beer had been spiked. As he sat at dinner and held my hand I literally could feel tension seep out of my neck and shoulders. It was the first time in a long time that I truly felt light and free. As the meal progressed they had two guys performing live music; they played a lot of 70s oldies and the whole place was singing along and folks were dancing. Bryan wanted to dance. First I danced with him and then Earl danced with him. He ordered dessert and smiled a joyful, relaxed smile. He was like a little man, he had steak, a chocolate lava dessert, danced and was ready for bed. His infectious happiness even charmed our waitress who said he was adorable. We went back to the room to go to sleep and I snuggled up with him until he drifted off. I admit I kissed him about a dozen times and he giggled a little and said “rest with me.” In the morning he snuggled with us in bed and decided to take bath in the jetted tub. He sat in there like a prince and I got to wash that signature thick and lustrous hair. A tactile treat for the Mom!
But of course reality set in for him and the angst crept up on him. He couldn’t eat breakfast, he puked a little. He was anxious about the plan for the day. He literally did not eat more than two bites the whole day and we kept trying to make sure he had water so he wouldn’t get dehydrated. He knew we were going to spend the day at Jason’s camp and then take him back to his camp. He knows he comes home on August 10 but repeated it/asked it about 300 times throughout the day. He cried in the car on the way to Jason’s camp. I was choking on my guilt. I wanted him to relax for himself and enjoy the day; but I also didn’t want Jason to have a bad visiting day with his brother crying. We finally reached Jason who was waiting for us at the entrance to the camp. He and I cried and hugged. He cried when he saw Bryan and they talked to each other in their special code words and Jason was able to wrangle a smile out of Bryan. Jason never missed a beat. We spent the day meeting Jason’s friends and counselors and hearing nice things about him and his ability to go with the flow. Earl and I were so proud of him. He has tried a lot of new things and seems to have made some solid friendships. The goodbye to Jason was a little emotional but he held it together.
Interestingly enough, Bryan seemed almost eager to get back to camp. I hate to say this but it was almost as if he knew how much more he had of his “sentence” and he wanted to hurry back and finish doing his time so he could come home. Although he seemed happy to see us on Friday, I think the anticipation of the visit, the stress of uncertainty of Saturday, led him to find relief in the familiarity of camp. Or at least that is what I’m going to tell myself until he comes home. Tonight we will have a call with his camp speech teacher and academic teacher to learn how he is doing. I called yesterday to check on him. They said an hour after we left he was fine and back into the routine.
We had a great visit after visiting day with my BFF Pammy and her husband and their 6 year old daughter (our future daughter-in-law). We laughed, we drank, we ate and we relaxed. We soaked up as much as we could from each other and left the next morning to head home. This morning while driving to work I was thinking how happy I am that we decided to send the boys to camp, how lucky they are to get those experiences. Only time will tell what lasting effect the summers have but all indications seem positive.