Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Interesting transitions

Pappaw and I had a most interesting experience on Monday. Because I’m nursing a kidney stone (I haven’t passed it yet, but at least it’s not bothering me much right now) he went along with me to take the stick-boy (age 12) up to RA camp for the week. Pappaw was my safety backup in case the stone decided to move in such a way as to make it difficult for me to drive. Thankfully, it didn’t. Nonetheless, we had a great time. I'm thankful for a father-in-law whose company I actively enjoy.

We learned about 3 weeks ago that the stick-boy would be the only one from this church at camp this week. Concerned that he might not want to go solo, our RA director called us to let us know. When we asked him, he didn’t hesitate to say that he was still just as excited about going. He’s been in a shy stage the past couple of years, so we were pleasantly surprised. I had never been to Camp McCall before, but everything we have heard about it is wonderful. In true boys’ camp style, rustic is a nice word for the cabins … rustic, but very livable. All of the other facilities that we saw looked to be in great shape, and the mountain setting is quite lovely. We haven’t heard from him, but we’d love to know everything he’s doing.

Let’s cut to the chase. We got him there and, after a bit of a wait, he was called up to the desk and I followed him through the registration process (they have it down to a fair science). He showed absolutely no sign of anxiety over being away from home for the week. After we got all the paperwork done, we began the trek up to cabin 8 (note to self: send a rolling suitcase next year). I tried to make him carry it all (if you pack it, you carry it), but it was such a long hike we ended up helping him. It wasn't too heavy, it was just cumbersome.

The cabin was deserted when we got there, although some of the earlier arrivals had already claimed bunks. We claimed his bunk (of course he wanted one on top), and stick boy paused for a few minutes to peruse the graffiti on the walls. He marveled that some dated all the way back to the mid-1980’s (wow!). I felt old.

The stick-boy looked like he was just going to stay up around the cabins, so Pappaw and I began our goodbyes and began the walk back down the steep path to the road. About halfway down, I was surprised to feel the stick-boy's arm brush mine. He has always been our physically demonstrative child. If you’re ever in the same room with him, he’ll likely be right next to you ... sometimes almost on top of you. He has always enjoyed giving and receiving hugs, but not on Monday.

When we got to the road, I paused and gave him one last word from me. I can’t really remember what I said other than “I love you.” Then I asked him if he had any last words for us. His response was an uncharacteristically quick, “Bye” … and that was that.

I think that experience may be God’s way of telling us that we’re heading down the right path. Our job as parents is to bring our kids to the place where they don’t absolutely have to have us around to be competent and confident. I think we’re getting there. What an interesting time of life!

That’s enough to think about for now.


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