I took Middle to camp today, and Oldest came along for the ride. Not like it was just down the street, or even an across-town, but he wanted to come anyway. The drive is long, and boring, until we hit Palm Desert. The boys did pretty well not driving me insane along the way, but there were, of course, the requisite pokes and jabs, but then, these are my boys and I would expect nothing less.
We stopped for lunch in Palm Desert, and then started up "the hill". Middle and I had done a pretty decent job scaring the pants off Oldest with the stories of climbing the hill, and I am pleased to report that the drive was not nearly as terrifying the second time as it was the first. No doubt, there are some death-defying turns at about 2000 feet up, but no one lost their lunch on the way up, and my grasp on the steering wheel did not leave imprints this time.
It is really a beautiful drive once you get past the "I'm going to drive off this cliff and meet my doom" part. Oldest was very much in awe of it all. It was also fun to watch the temperature gauge drop lower and lower.. 95* at the bottom, and 67* at the top of the hill. Camp is at about 5200ft elevation. I froze, and it was wonderful!
Middle showed Oldest all around, introduced him to the counselor - Middle has the same counselor this year as he did last year, and is totally excited by this - and gave Oldest a tour of the most important parts of camp: the hollowed out tree you can climb into, and the zip line.
Oldest and I hung out for about an hour, walking around camp, talking to folks. There is a part of Oldest, I think, that wishes he were staying with Middle at camp. I think he would be loathe to admit this to me, or to anyone, but I watched him interact with the kids and walk around camp... maybe next year we will convince him to go.
Last year, Middle wanted me to stay until the very last possible moment. He got all teary when I went to hug him for the last time, and I tried hard NOT to cry in front of him, but that was an epic fail. This year, however, we were both ready. Middle was happy to have us around, but when it came time for the campers to group together, he looked at me, those deep brown eyes with the twinkle and his broad gap-toothed grin and said "Ok, Mom.. you can go now."
No tears. No lingering "I don't want to let you go" hugs. No problem. For either of us.
Doing things for the first time is tough, be it drive Highway 74 up the mountain, or leave your child at sleep away camp. You don't know what to expect. Folks can tell you, sure, but until you go through it for yourself, and come out the other side unscathed, you just don't know. And that makes it hard. But once you know, and you have not only the sense of accomplishment but the true knowledge that you will be OK, it becomes a piece of cake.
So, Middle is in his happy place - camp. And I am thrilled for him. And Oldest and I will have adventures of our own, enjoying the change in dynamics within the family this week. Even if all we will do is pack boxes and toss trash and even if there is not a Zip line in sight.