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My Kids Are Finally Coming Back From Camp . . . Yay?

Back From Camp

I’m sitting on my back porch feeling so relaxed, an iced latte and a fully-loaded iPad in hand. All is right in the world. I read one paragraph of my chick lit and look up at a chirping bird. “Ahh,” I say aloud to myself. It’s a beautiful, peaceful day. All the stars are aligned at this exact moment.

I go back to reading, when I get a funny feeling in my stomach. I look up and think, “Is that a cloud over head?” Nope. Still sunny. Then that Jimminy Cricket character who is constantly popping up in my head says,” Hee. Hee. Hee. Four more days until the kids come home from camp.” I hear another less cheerful voice in my head sing songing, ”Duh duh duh duh.”

Dreading the Piles of Dirty Laundry

And just that quickly, my heart starts beating fast, and my mind begins to race with thoughts of a driveway full of filthy clothes and messy teens. Everything spilling, like a tornado, out of body bags loaded with supplies for surviving four weeks.

My palms start to sweat as I begin to think about the question, “So, what are we doing now?” (at 8:05 am). I have nothing planned, not even breakfast.

As if I am in some dream, I slowly make my way to the kitchen (which until a minute ago, was my haven). I have been cooking for adults—yummy eggplant dips, roasted veggies—and it’s been so neat and clean. No Cheerios trails or open boxes on the counters.

I open up the refrigerator to see if there is food inside. The refrigerator is stocked. Yet I know that for my kids, the refrigerator has the invisibility cloak around it. When they get home, they will open the door and say, “There’s nothing to eat here.”

Resenting the Return of Nightly Dinners

I start to shake thinking of the dinners that they will need. I’m not great at the nightly cooking thing, but now, with them at camp, there’s at least no guilt about it.

I try to shake off this silliness and go upstairs. I pass my sons’ bedrooms. Bad move. Their rooms are pristine. No laundry on the floor. No bad smells. Really nice. I inhale again just to make sure I am not imagining it. Yep. Nice.

Now, I’m officially in prep mode. It’s going to happen.

My husband passes me on the steps and says, “Are you alright?” He still has that “kids at camp” look. I must not be alone in this. Strength in numbers right? “You know what happens in four days, right?” I see the shadow pass over his head as recognition takes over. “They come home right?” he says in a terrified way. He gets how relaxed it’s been. It’s our camp time too.

Struggling with The Idea of Their Return

I bypass the desk where we keep all electronic things plugged in. My kids have had four weeks without being connected. I relish that for them. Understanding how important it is. Feeling sad that they are growing up being so connected, but happy that they got a taste of what life was like for us kids in the 70’s.

“Re-entry” seems easier when the astronauts zoom in from one atmosphere to another. Do I need a NASA team? I am trying to get a hold of myself. I go into the laundry room to finish that once a week little load I have during their time away. Then I spot them—the backpacks. I swear I can hear them, ”School is in a little over a month.” I am not going there. I quickly leave and shut the door.

What is happening to me? I am such a “glass half full” kind of girl, but it’s filled with Bug Juice now.

I walk into the family room and notice all the family pictures surrounding me. The smiles, the laughter.

Another feeling creeps up in my heart. It’s a flutter. I can’t wait to give my boys a hug. I miss them—I really miss them. Then I smile and think, ”They’re coming home!”

Dina Rock is a teacher at The Mandel School and a Fellow on the Teacher’s Advisory Group for National Council on Teacher Quality.

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