by Risa Green
My daughter has been at sleepaway camp for exactly one week. It has been the longest week of my life. In fact, every day seems to move in slow motion, causing each twenty-four hour period to feel more like seventy-two hours, so really, she’s been gone for three weeks, now. It’s like how when you’re in college, dating someone for a month is equivalent to almost a full year in regular-life time. I miss her so much that my heart actually physically hurts.
I used to go to overnight camp every summer for eight weeks, and my summers at camp were some of the best of my life. So I was (and still am) excited for her to be having that experience. But I never had any concept of how difficult it is for the parents. I mean, it’s not like I can talk to her. It’s two weeks of radio silence, just sitting around, wondering if she’s having a good time, hoping that the camp mom isn’t going to call to tell me that she’s homesick, but also kind of hoping that she will, just so I can get some information. I feel horrible now that I didn’t write to my parents more while I was at camp every summer. I remember dreading letter day – once a week, you couldn’t get into dinner without handing one in – and I was so busy having fun that I used to sit down and write at little as humanly possible. My brother outsmarted the system entirely – he used to just turn in an empty envelope every week. I can just imagine my poor mom, running to the mailbox, her heart leaping at the sight of his handwriting, and finding nothing inside of it. Ouch.
I got my own letter from my daughter the other day (finally!) and it, too, was devastatingly short and devoid of information.
I love camp! But I’m upset ‘cause I lost my watch. I think I left it at breakfast but I’m not sure. Anyway, I miss you and I’m having a blast!
At least the camp puts up pictures on their website every day. And it’s amazing how much information one can glean from pictures. For example, I can tell that she found the watch, because she’s been wearing it in every picture since I got the letter. I can also tell that she got the care package I sent her, because she was wearing one of the barrettes that I put in it. Also, I can tell that she might have a gambling problem, because her pile of chips on Casino Night was disproportionately larger than anyone else’s at her table. And she was wearing a visor.
But it hasn’t been all bad. While the house has been eerily quiet without her - no loud music. No Wii Dance Dance Revolution. No fighting between her and her brother. No hijacked phones while she talks to her friends. Did I mention no fighting between her and her brother? – I am enjoying the time that my son and I are having together. As the second child, he’s never really had me all to himself, and I feel like we’re making up for some of that lost time when he was a baby and I totally ignored him because I was so busy with my daughter. This week, we’ve played with Legos together, had lunches and dinners together, gone to Legoland together. We’ve played at the park, we’ve gone swimming, we’ve watched movies that he gets to pick out. It’s been really, really nice. But he misses her, too. Every day he asks me how many weeks it’s been since she left, and every day I tell him that it hasn’t even been one week yet. He sighs, and says that weeks are really, really long. And I tell him that yes, they sure are.