|The boy in his bunk|
This is out of sequence- we took Asher to overnight camp 10 days after we returned from our trip to France- but I wanted to write about the experience before he comes home.
Asher asked to go to overnight camp around January, I think. Prior to him asking, I had been sure that it wasn't going to happen in our family. I didn't really like overnight camp as a child; my first experience was 4 nights at a girl scout camp in Texas, and I had hated every single minute of it (cold showers, bugs, dirty mattresses, terrible food, incessant homesickness). Eric had never gone. But in the area where we live, it is pretty common for kids over 8 to go away for at least three weeks, and I had simply been burying my head in the sand. So Asher asked, and I asked if he would prefer a Jewish overnight camp, or a non-religious one. He said a Jewish camp, and so it was a done deal- we would find a way to make it happen.
I was anxious for days before Asher's departure, and didn't sleep much in the nights leading up to it. There was such extensive preparation, with buying things and labeling things and sorting things and packing things. Finally we were ready to go, and on June 27, I drove Asher up, along with family friends whose daughter was also attending. I thought I would certainly cry, and just wanted to hold it together so that he wouldn't see me.
We arrived, and after a temperature check and a lice check for him, we proceeded to his cabin and unpacked his belongings. While I was unpacking he ran outside and started to play Gaga with some of his bunkmates and counselors, and I had to pull him back in to show him where I had stored all of his belongings. He was eager to return to playing, and gave me a really quick hug and kiss goodbye, and that was it- he wasn't sad at all. His comfort at being left with friends helped me feel comfortable in walking away.
The first week wasn't bad. After leaving Asher at camp, I had a full day of work and then Eric and I flew out to California. We came home and it was the July 4 holiday, and time raced by. But he's now been gone almost 3 weeks, and I miss him painfully.
Our whole family seems off-balance. Charlotte and Benjamin don't get along too well. She tries to boss him around, and he is moody and tries to tattle on her whenever he can. He is suffering from insomnia and won't stay in bed at bedtime, getting up with a rotating list of complaints (I'm afraid of the dark, the air conditioner wakes me up, I am itchy, etc.). Everything seems to be a little low-energy. I went to Trader Joe's yesterday, and had a powerful pang of missing him. Benjamin wrote him a letter and said, "Dear Asher, you must miss me, since I really miss you." and drew a picture of himself parachuting into Asher's cabin to join him at camp.
I write him about every-other-day, and we have received one letter in return, 2 weeks ago. It was 3 sentences long. He said: Camp is amazing, I swim in the lake, I like woodworking, and I am trying new foods. We haven't heard anything else! I am hoping that it means he is so busy having fun with his friends that he doesn't have time to write. We can see pictures online and he seems occupied and happy.
The countdown is on- less than a week until he returns. I dreamed about him last night, I am missing him so much. For his homecoming Charlotte wants to decorate the house, and I want to bake him a big cake. And of course, smother him with hugs and kisses. This separation has been difficult on our end, and I am very eager to hear what it was like for him.