So today, my parents and I made the very long trek to visit my great kid as he hit the halfway point of his stay at camp. Between a combination of Grandpa Vinnie offering helpful advice like “wake me if you need help finding this place” and Grandma Eileen reading the Yahoo directions we so carefully printed out, supplemented by my one true friend in my car (my GPS) with the directions read to me by Yoda (the highway, you must join; at the next intersection, you must turn left), we made it there in a little under 3 hours, anxious to see our boy.
And what a great reunion we had, although far too short. Met his friends, saw where he’s editing the movie he’s written, went out for lunch in a very homey place where the main decor consisted of stuffed dead animals on the wall (although I kept waiting for the fish to turn its head towards me and start singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, it turned out not to be Billy Bass). We also saw what may be the last working cigarette machine in America where, for the incredibly low price of $6.50, you can buy a pack of a legal narcotic that will do its damndest to eventually kill you. But I digress.
Anyway, we had a lovely lunch, took Brendan back to camp, had a relatively painfree goodbye (although there was some minor weeping on my part, masterfully concealed by my sunglasses) and off we returned to the land of New Jersey, promising to see my great kid again in 2 weeks when camp is over.
But tonight . . . oh, tonight. Things are sad here. For I just hung up with my great kid, my weeping great kid, telling me how homesick he is and how 4 weeks away from me was too long and that he wants to come home. And so now I sit and alternate between feeling so guilty (did I push the baby bird out of the nest too soon?) and struggling to be strong (it’s only another 2 weeks and we both need to learn how to live without each other being a 24/7 presence in the other’s life). This is not one of those lessons that you can look up in Dr. Spock (or Mr. Spock, for that matter) and get a pat answer. What do I say to him? What’s the right approach?
And so I turned to my mentor, my GPS friend, the great (and oh-so underappreciated) philosopher of our time, Yoda. What would Yoda tell me? How would Yoda handle this? And, clear as a bell, I got my answer.
“Trust the force, Luke”.
I know, deep down in my heart, that camp is a great learning and growing experience for my great kid and that he is really having a much better time than he let on tonight and that his tears are those of a tired kid missing his mom and that a good night’s sleep and the dawn’s early light will bring us both into a better day. And that he won’t miss me nearly as much tomorrow as he does right now (although I cannot make the same promise for myself) and that the 2 remaining weeks will fly by, filled with the sort of wonderful summer memories that can’t be manufactured or recreated or even imagined, but must be experienced first-hand. And, as I reminded him (because my mom reminded me), I was never brave enough to even attempt sleep-away camp because I was too afraid and too worried about being away from my family. So how can I be anything but totally proud of him for living a better and stronger life at his age than I did at his age, because isn’t that what we all want for our kids? To be a better version of ourselves. So I am trusting the force and praying for his guardian angel to spend a little extra time watching over him tonight.
And so I close with the words I said to him when we spoke a little while ago to help him get through tonight and the next night and the one after that, words found in the stories of another great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, and words which seemed to help him (and helped me just by saying them):
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”.
And he is.