Giving Kids Wings
Today is the day parents across the country are dropping their children off to board a bus or plane to go off to summer camp. It’s usually harder on the moms than the kids. This is the first year my 7-year old twins, Max and Kate are going to sleep away camp. So at 7:15 this morning we pulled in to a parking lot lined with large charter buses. On one side of the lot four buses stood ready for the young boys making this annual pilgrimage from Westchester NY to Southern Maine to spend the summer at Camp Takajo (traditional camps last 7 weeks). On the other side of the lot were the buses taking the girls off for a summer at Tripp Lake Camp. (Although my husband has owned both these Maine summer camps for kids for years, I had never experienced this event).
There were some tears and some reluctance to separate from moms, dads, siblings and in a few cases even the family dog. However my twins having grown up the camp atmosphere were quite nonchalant about the whole thing.
My older daughters Sarah 22 and Lindsay 27 had come home from New York City to "be there for this monumental event in Kate and Max's life." We all ran back and forth across the massive parking lot from the girls buses to the boys buses to comfort Kate and Max. I was at Max's bus when Kate's bus began to load. My daughter Lindsay said to her. "Do you want to get on with the other girls or wait for mom?" Kate smiled at her and said "I want to get on with my new friends, tell mom I love her!"
...OK so should I be sad that she did that so easily? Or happy that she is so self-confident and that I helped to make her feel that way? As parents, it feels like our job is to constantly hug and protect them. However it is equally important to give them wings and to "let them go."
So off they went, both smiling, waving and blowing kisses. Big sisters wiped a tear and drove back to New York City to go to work.
A few hours later I got the following email from big sis Sarah:
"I cannot believe that Kate and Max are on the bus right now! What do you think they're doing mom?? What are they talking about?? What if they're hungry? (They have packed lunches) What if they have to pee? (There's a bathroom on the bus). What if they get bus sick...oh man, I don't think I can ever have kids!"
I can remember worrying about Sarah as she went off to camp at the same age. And now here she is sitting at her desk at work fretting over whether Kate and Max are feeling nervous. One of the blessings of having a second round of children later in life is that your older ones get the opportunity to learn how fascinating it is to see a child develop. They learn about this capacity to care and also about the importance of letting children go so that they too can learn to be confident on their own.
I promise I'll wait a few more hours before I call to check on how they're doing.