Friday, August 21, 2009
Thank all that is good and right, it is Friday.
I've had a tough week.
My son attended a day camp all week. The camp was highly recommended by my son's school coach and it has recommendations and notoriety outside of school as well. But the minute I walked in the door Monday morning, I felt uneasy. I changed my mind about the whole thing. I just didn't like it. I didn't like the atmosphere. I didn't like the attitude. I didn't like it when I followed my son downstairs to introduce myself to the instructor and rather than greeting me, the instructor met me with a sarcastic, "And here's your mother along to hold your hand." Excuse me? Is wanting to meet the instructor and see the instruction space unreasonable? Wouldn't a professional person readily introduce himself? Was my son supposed to be embarrassed by my presence? I wanted to bring my son right back home with me.
Don't worry, I didn't. But I wanted to.
This week, my son learned about chess. This week, I learned about growing up. Not only him, but me, too.
I had to really think hard. Did I really think my son was in danger? Or did I just not like the people? Was my son at real risk? Or was I just uncomfortable? It's taken me all week. Each morning, it has been a little more difficult to take him. When I found out they were not instructing the kids to wash their hands before eating, I questioned their childcare credentials. When they took the kids to the beach -- when the original plan was laser tag, btw -- and only asked the kids whether they wanted sunscreen -- and took no for an answer -- while readily applying it to themselves, I questioned their judgment and wisdom. (Don't they know you have to insist kids put on sunscreen? Any wiggle room and they'll choose against it!?) I could go on and on. And I have. Ask my husband.
I have held what we'll call "information seeking sessions" and "brainstorming and heartsearching sessions" each and every evening. We've examined at length what these people are thinking and what they should be thinking; who they think they are and who they, in fact, are not; and our cumulative impressions of all such persons. My husband was sent on a field trip of his own -- dropping off my son one morning -- so he had more to offer the discussion that evening. (Predictably, most of his impressions were "fine" or some variation of it.)
But I have gritted my teeth and explored the difference between my son's safety and my comfort. He has wanted to go each morning. He has enjoyed this week. He has learned what he was there to learn and had fun along the way. He learned a lot more about chess. Did he learn that an adult will always remind him to wash his hands before he eats? No. He learned he'd better start remembering it all on his own. Did he learn that, one way or another, someone will insist he wear sunscreen at the beach? No. He learned he has to choose it for himself.
I guess those are worthwhile lessons for him.
As for me?
I know you parents who have older children are probably rolling your eyes at this, seeing the obviousness of these lessons. But I'll bet if you remember back, you can recall the first time you let your child do something that went against your best judgment and really pushed you out of your comfort zone. It wasn't easy. I guess parents grow right along with their children.
This was a tougher week for me than it was for my son. But I did begrudgingly learn that I will survive even if my son is not surrounded by people I strongly admire. I learned that my son will tell me when he thinks something is wrong -- like when they had him ride in the front seat even after he told them he wasn't allowed. I learned that, while it is difficult to let my son go on with things that are not to my liking, it may still be to his benefit.
I'll bet you more experienced parents know that this is just the start of this sort of thing for me, isn't it? Don't tell me. I'm not ready . . .
First, let me pick him up from chess camp today and give him a hug and a kiss when we get home (I know they can't be in public anymore -- learned that last year). Let me get him a snack while he watches Arthur. Let me put him in a long, soaky bath and remind him to scrub his toes. Let me tuck him in bed tonight and relish knowing where he is all night long, safe, warm, and looked after.
What? I played nice all week. Now he's all mine, and I'm not sharing him with nobody.