Saying goodbye to camp

On Friday, dd will finish her last day of her first summer camp experience. Kindergarten starts next week, and it didn’t make sense to keep her in camp for half of the week, with Kindergarten intruding midway through the week. DH and I are splitting the duty; he’s got her for a few days and I have her for a few days, and between the two of us we’ll now begin doing this comical dance that somehow provides us with coverage for days when she’s not in school while simultaneously keeping us from running afoul of the dregs of our paid time off pools.

It’s been a strange journey. I thought I’d write more about it, especially when she was such a sad panda for those first few weeks, crying about not wanting to go to camp before we’d even made out of the house, clinging to my leg like a wet leaf as I signed her in every morning. But somewhere around the 4th week, things went past clicking – and she really fell in love with it.

By then, she knew all the counselors’ names, and they all clearly knew her. They loved playing off her humor and they knew how to push her buttons to get her to smile or interact with them, and this increased my comfort level dramatically over the course of the summer. We’d originally been very hesitant to send her to this camp, since though most friends gave it decent reviews, we heard bad things from one friend whose daughter is a contemporary of dd. There were anecdotes of her dd coming home from camp still in wet clothes (they swim daily) and too-young, clearly inexperienced people tending to my friend’s child. But when I sent in dd, whether it was that she was a year older at the time that she went or whether it was just the difference between the two girls, dd just didn’t have those issues. She never came home in the wrong clothes, or in wet clothes, or in anything other than what I expected.

She came home happy.

She never face-planted into her dinner plate, as I’d been warned that she might, but she did come home tired every day…worn out from playing outside in the lovely summer weather and swimming in the pool.

And now she’s leaving it behind, for terra incognita. She’s off to Kindergarten, a whole new adventure.

We knew that things would change come the Fall; one drop-off would become two, breakfast and lunch would be on-us rather than served up at day care, and a backpack would be the norm rather than a rare exception. Camp was our opportunity to get everyone into that new routine a bit early. Our ds also needed some time to adjust to not having his sister RIGHT THERE when he wanted her, since day care allowed them to visit each other pretty much whenever they wanted. Camp set a serious geographic boundary between them that forced him to handle the day all on his own, and he’s done well with it. Oddly enough, when I come in to pick him up in the afternoons, his sister in tow, he blasts right past her with yells of “Mommy! Mommy!” and gives me the biggest, awesomest hugs ever.

It’s been quite the summer. It’s whisked by in a blur of trips and parties, with camp, daycare and work as the only things not on some kind of orbit. They were fixed points. And now one of them is changing – again. I suppose it will actually get easier; the elementary school is closer to home than camp. Still, it’s all more changes to the routine and somehow we just need to get into the new routine without somehow losing our collective nut.

So expect that I’ll still struggle some with lunches and snacks and the inevitable “OMG HER NEW MORON FRIENDS ARE GETTING HER INTO {name something I’m sure to hate}“. I suppose every parent goes through this at some point or another. It just seems like the summer raced by and I don’t know how it happened that my little girl, who it seems I only just put into day care, who only just became a big sister, is now staring down turning six in a couple of months and is starting Kindergarten in a week. ONE WEEK.

It all seems rather incredible, and yet I suppose I can believe it. So we’ll say goodbye to camp for now – with plans to return next summer (perhaps with both kids this time). And I’ll still think of her as my little girl, because (deep inside her) she always will be.

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