Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tearful goodbyes

Yesterday, we said our goodbyes to two of our daughters who will spend the next couple of months at sleepaway camp. We will visit them for one day in the middle of the session but, other than that, we rely on communication by letters (both email and snail mail these days) to stay in touch. Jeff and I grew up going to sleepaway camp, which, for each of us, was a formative, maybe even transformative, and positive experience. When our kids let us know, several years ago already, that they wanted to go to sleepaway camp, we knew that we'd miss them terribly and it would be difficult for us but we also knew we would not deny them this experience if that's what they wanted. So, over the last few days, I experienced what's become my annual anxiety, sadness, crankiness and craziness over the packing and the goodbyes. Saying goodbye to our kids when they assert their independence and go off to camp remains very difficult for me. For the first time, though, I held myself together and didn't cry.

One of our daughters has opted out of the sleepaway camp experience, preferring to do her own thing at a visual and performing arts day camp and sleep in her own bed every night. She started camp this morning. I took her to the bus where we exchanged our goodbyes until later and started to make my way to work. That's when the tears came. I wonder if they waited until each of our daughters got her summer underway. I think they were a mixture of sadness over the goodbyes and relief that everyone seemed to be doing what she wanted to be doing and maybe a little anxiety over not yet being 100% sure that each would be happy as can be with her choice. What can I say? For some of us, goodbyes just aren't easy and every goodbye packs a great deal of emotion and meaning.  I'm grateful that I will get a first hand report from one daughter tonight so I'll know exactly how things are going for her. As for the other two, I'll have to wait for the letters. Thankfully, when they write, our kids write awesome letters. And there's something to be said for that kind of thoughtful, written communication.

Apologies to my friend Evelyn who, I know, was hoping and expecting that this post would be about the insane amount of "stuff" our daughters brought with them to camp this summer. Our oldest daughter packed for herself and the volume is worthy of a post in and of itself. It took us several hours yesterday to find space in her cabin for everything she insisted she needed to bring. More on that another day...

Though I've already blogged about this one, a fun summer read for 1st through 5th graders (yes, the appeal is that broad) is Jarrett Krosoczka's Lunch Lady and The Summer Camp Shakedown, this year's winner of the Children's Choice Book Awards' 3rd-4th Grade Book of the Year. Another fun summer camp-related read is Jennifer and Matt Holm's Camp Babymouse. You can never go wrong with Babymouse or Lunch Lady comics!
Older middle graders and YA readers may want to concentrate on the goodbye theme and pick up a copy of Sarah Dessen's latest work, What Happened to Goodbye.

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