Letters from Home

My big kid’s been away at camp since Sunday.  If the MDA Facebook page is to be believed, and why wouldn’t it be?, the kids are having a blast.  I was scrolling through pictures the camp director posted a short while ago, and the first one I saw of my son stopped me dead in my tracks.  He’s so big, my boy.  He’s taller than his college-aged counselor, and very suddenly, he looks different.  Older.  More independent.  Even more guarded.  Mature?  Different somehow.  My heart is arrythmic right now with this glimpse of a changed him away from me.

Before departure, families were asked to write letters to the kids and specify when they were to be delivered.  It’s a fool’s errand to try to write reality-based, real-time-ish missives of love from home, but I tried–fake it til you make it, or something like that anyway.  The underlying message was “I love you and I miss you, but I don’t want you to read one word that might make you homesick.”  The transcripts follow, and if you think I’m a generic mom, well, you’re WRONG.  Obviously you haven’t kept up on the hilarious, but warm autobiography I publish here.  I just didn’t want to give the kid one scintilla of a notion that life back in the 414 was anything short of hunkydory.  He was to have the best time ever, and not worry about us back home.

Monday, June 13

So you just had your first night of sleep-away camp!  You’re such a big kid now, and you never listen to me when I say, “Stop growing!”  You’re not supposed to stop growing obviously, and I know camp is only one of many adventures for you as you get older and more mature.

I can’t wait to hear all about your counselor.  Is he a pretty cool guy?  Do you see Lauren ever?  I’m pretty sure you’re the only camper whose cousin is a counselor there too.  Last year Lauren became a counselor with you in mind.  I know you don’t fully understand why that is a huge deal—and how it shows how much she loves you, but I hope someday you will.  Tell Lauren hi from me.

Are there more boys or girls at camp?  How ‘bout the campers’ ages?  Are the kids little, or more middle-school aged like you?  I hope you remember to be a good friend—be polite, keep your head up (and also look where you are going!) and listen to the other kids.  Listen like you mean it, and mean it!

Today was E’s last day of school and then he goes to YMCA Day Camp the rest of the week.  We may go to Chill on the Hill, but it will depend on the weather and also baseball.  Don’t forget we will be in the Dells this weekend for E’s tournament.  Grandma and Grandpa will be meeting us there.  I’m excited to see them too!

I hope you got to do some fun stuff and maybe even have a little run over to the snack shack.  Write it all down so you don’t forget any of it.

We miss you like crazy, but know you are in very good care.  The MDA says camp is the best week of the year—do you agree?

Be a good kid, and have fun!  Enjoy the moment—I know you know what I mean.

Love, Mom

PS—E says “ninnercrommie.”  He’s so weird!

 

Tuesday, 6/14

Hi Son,

We miss you!

I was wondering if there are any giant bugs at camp.  You know how I keep calm and collected with giant bugs!  Kidding!  But I am thrilled you are enjoying the great outdoors.

What was last night’s special activity?  I wondered if you guys sat by a campfire and sang songs at night.  I don’t have a great singing voice, but I remember loving to sing camp songs when I went to Girl Scout camp.  Hopefully you sing along.  It’s not at all the same as performing—have fun.

When is motorcycle night?  I’ve never been on a Harley—not quite my thing.  Maybe it’s yours?

Are you getting any good ideas for stories?  In a few weeks you have writing camp at UWM, so maybe you’ll have fresh experiences and material to draw upon.

Tomorrow is my last day of school, and may I just say, YEEEEEE-HAW!!!

I love you, Big Kid!  Hope your days and nights are kick-butt!

Love you,

Cranjis McBasketball

A/K/A Mom

 

Wednesday, June 15

Dear Hingle McKringleberry,

By the time  you read this I will be done with school!  Your summer rolled out a day early—lucky!!  We have a lot we’re doing this summer, but it’s nice not to have to set a 5:15 AM alarm.

So what’s the scoop?  Do you miss us or are you too busy and excited even to think about us?  You better NEVER be too busy to think about your mom, Mister!  You’ll probably have grown another 6” during the time you’re at camp.  Will we even recognize you for pick up Friday?

Tell me about the best part of your day yesterday.  Was it swim or rest?  Lunch or snacks?  Who’s got the coolest wheelchair?  Speaking of wheelchairs, have you learned anything about how they operate?  With your interest in designing trains and planes, maybe you can engineer some super smooth wheelchair modifications.

Are there any campers who live near us in Milwaukee?  From how far away are kids coming?

I’m very curious to know what you’re thinking about these days.  The house is very quiet now that I don’t hear, “Hey Mom” 642 times per day!  I also don’t hear “Not yet. . .” and I’m hoping the counselors aren’t either.  Please be a conscientious listener and be aware of what is going on around you.

I love you and miss you tons,

Mom

PS—Say hi to Lauren from me

 

I can’t recall how I completed this last camp letter.  I ran out of fake news and my left hand ran out of neatness.  Now that he’s been gone five days, I know I’d develop a very different bunch of letters.  Next year, right?  And don’t judge the penmanship either, OK?  Some handwriting analyst would have a field day with the inconsistencies found herein.

One of the camp activities was wheelchair basketball, and my son was placed in a wheelchair for the game.  I totally GET IT, but you guys, I gasped when I saw the photo.  Photographs can but don’t always catch genuine emotion.  Was he totally into the experience?  Was it fun?  Was he freaking out?  Did he give the “oh hell no, ain’t no way” in the second before the picture was snapped or was he a gamer?  I showed his younger brother photos from the day, and when he got to that picture, little bro looked stunned.  Looking at me sideways, oh-so-quietly he asked, “Is he in a wheelchair now?” Every pore of my body felt flushed and I broke out into pinpricks and cold sweat, and before I could respond with a gentle “no, not yet,” I felt the burn of tears.  No.  Not yet.

I saw the future, and can’t unsee it.  I wonder if he saw the future too.  I wonder if he’s better or more reasonably prepared to face the future than I am.  I hope so.  Sometimes my kid can’t plan how to put on both shoes, but can prepare and price out an international travel vacation itinerary.  He pens and illustrates elaborate cartoons and can imitate detail like you’ve never seen, but can’t seem to practice piano without being told.  My own child is often an enigma to me.  What does the future look like to a 12-year-old bigger than everyone but still little boy?

 

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13 thoughts on “Letters from Home

  1. Your letters were beautiful and warm. He probably won’t keep them, being 12 years old and all, but you made a brave effort and I’m sure he grinned about the things you shared. Y’all are tough cookies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Turns out he did keep them! At least he didn’t pitch them before he got home. It was an interesting layout–having written them on clean, pristine paper, then seeing them torn open and wrinkled and handled. There’s some kind of circle in that. He’s tougher than I knew, that’s for sure. Darn kid, teaching me life lessons and all!

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  2. I love your blog for so many reasons…one of them being that you use words like “scintilla”. I literally feel smarter after having read this 🙂 Also I lol-ed when you said your kid can’t plan how to put on both shoes but can prepare and price out an international travel vacation itinerary. Reminded me very much of myself, only trade out shoes for pant legs (literally, I don’t understand why such a simple thing is so difficult). Much love my fellow blogger and very glad he’s having such a good time at camp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jackie, you made me LOL right back! Thank you so much for saying something nice–I’m happy to contribute to your daily dose of vocabulary study! 🙂 Camp really was the best week of the year for him. My eyes well up every time I think about it. I hate MD for him, but love that he had this experience because of it. The folks at our MDA chapter are simply amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your blog and your letters from home are awesome. Your big kid is sooooo lucky that you’re his mom. I remain in awe of your grace and good humor. You’re my hero!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an amazing bunch of letters. Your heart is right there in the page and I know he can feel it too. He will cherish them. I am hoping it has been an amazing experience for him, fun and filled with new friends! I can’t wait to hear all about it!! I get my son back from camp tomorrow myself and I know I can not wait. I’ve missed him so!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your reaction to the image of him in a wheelchair struck home. I remember the day when the doctor wrote a prescription for a motorized wheelchair for me. I thought, “I don’t need a wheelchair.” Of course, I did, but I was still trying to walk on my own. I, too, wonder how he felt about it. Was he, “Okay, it is just so I can participate in the game.” Or, did he feel pushed into something he doesn’t want deal with so soon. I am hoping that he saw it as just a game prerequisite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was there in the moment, and recognized it for what it was–a necessary equalizer. His brother and I were the ones, as outsiders, seeing him in photos alone without the context. I can’t pretend I know what you felt as you approached regular use of your wheelchair, but I think there’s something to be said about trying to continue to walk on your own. Tenacity is a terrific quality, and so is knowing when to accept help. I think that can apply in many cases across our lifespans.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, don’t cry. That’s my job! Thank you for reading, my sweet friend. It means so much that you’re here for me, and I’m sorry you cried, but appreciate that my words registered with you. xoxo

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