The family "rule" is that sleepaway summer camp happens when you're eleven. If you'd like to go, that is. That's when Calvin went for the first time, and it seemed just the perfect age at the time, hence the rule. But then Ezra came along, and at ten years old, he was insistent that he was ready, eager, and excited to go. And so he went, at ten, and did marvelously. Cue Adelaide, who is still just nine, yet has been asking for a year now if she can go to camp this summer too. No way! we said. You're nine! But the requests didn't stop and once we stopped resisting long enough to look past the 'rule' and really look at the kid, of course she was right. She was ready, and she wanted it badly. (And what will all of this mean for not only Harper, but dear baby Annabel? Oh gosh. I might as well sign her up for six years old right now. Though that one, I think she'd go now if she could.)
And so she's off, my Adelaide. She's been packing for months, ever so thoughtfully. Planning out her favorite outfits in just the right rotation until laundry day at camp, plotting which horse books she'd bring and what craft supplies she'd limit herself to putting in her suitcase, picking just the right stuffed animals to have with her on the journey, and .... bless her heart, choosing just the perfect pens, paper, stamps (lotus flowers, Mom, not the flags, please!), and drawing a set of notecards that she'll write and send while at camp (she's a bit inspired by Emily Martin, as you can see). She remembers, of course, all the letter writing kits I put together for her two older brothers (Calvin and Ezra), but took matters into her own hands well before I had a chance to do so. She ended up asking to take the very original Gratitude Wrap, because she said it would remind her of me every time she saw it. (Oh, that girl.) I have a feeling I'm going to get some mail from her.
She's a sensitive, shy and quiet one, my Adelaide. One who is known to say that she'd much rather be in a room full of animals than a room full of people. I've been nervous about camp for her. But as the drop off day approached, there was nothing but excitement and a big ole paper chain in her room marking down the days. Once there, beginning to settle into her assigned cabin, she looked on the wall in the bunk she had chosen and read "Ezra S. 2014" (along with a silly nonsensical Ezra poem, and an Instagram signature. Oh, Ezra). Ah! What are the chances that not only would she be assigned his last cabin, but then pick his bunk? It made her smile and it made my heart happy, thinking that she is surrounded - at least energetically - by the familiar, in this place that has been so nurturing and wonderful for my boys each and every summer.
When it was time to say goodbye, both dimples on her cheeks were deep, so big was her smile. A hug, a giggle, and off she went, happily skipping into a room full of what are sure to be new friends.
And then I got home and cried. I miss her! She's a bright big ball of sunshine around this place, not to mention an amazing farm helper, and goodness, my best crafting companion. The first year at summer camp is always the hardest, I'm learning. It gets easier in subsequent years. But this first year, their absence is felt so strongly....and that's precisely why, whether I knew what I was doing or not, I started the other first-year-at-camp tradition. A Bedroom Redo! Not only does a few weeks away give all that paint time to dry, but it gives me a bit of time each day to focus on her, whether she's here or not. It feels just right, just as it did each time I did so for the boys before her.
I've got my work cut out for me, though. Five years of cats, kittens, puppies, dogs, lambs (well, that was only one time), not to mention markers, paint, and gosh, that awful glitter glue (that she loves sooooo much and uses sooooo creatively that I just can't bear to ban it)! From ceiling to walls, trim, and floor, this room needs new paint. Holes in the walls patched. A more grown up girl vibe. And some kind of solution to all those stuffed animals, Breyer horses, and dare I mention craft supplies? I think she rivals me for that last bit, and she's in one of the smallest rooms of the house to boot.
See? I've got just the perfect distraction all lined up and needing my attention every time I feel those pangs of missing her. And then there's the mailbox, which I may or may not be watching like a hawk. Oh, what joy - and a little bit of pain - it is to watch them soar!