“Where is your daughter, Jane?” The neighbor asks.
“At summer camp.” I reply.
“How is she enjoying it?” They ask.
“I assume she’s fine.” I reply.
Then, they melt down. The questions come rapid fire. Why hasn’t she called? Oh, they aren’t allowed to call [insert sanctimonious tone here]. I don’t know that I’d send my kid to a camp like that. Oh, all camps are like that? Well, that’s not how I remember it. Can’t you send her with a cell phone so she can text you?
That is not why I sent my daughter to camp.
We sent our daughter to camp so that she could take one more leap into adulthood. At ten, she’s ready for a few days of structured independence. At ten, she’s ready to spend some time in a world with a diverse group of children. She’s ready to pick her own clothing and food, to make her own decisions about hygiene and to resolve her own conflicts.
If I gave my child the opportunity to come home early from camp, I would be crippling her. Part of me would love to keep my daughter home, but how fair would that be?
Raising my child without summer camp would be akin to growing a sunflower in the closet. Don’t get me wrong, there are mothers who can provide children the sports, interaction, crafts and singalongs that summer camp provides. I am not that woman. I send my children to camp.
I’m not sure why I allow myself to feel defensive about raising a child that is self assured and confident. When my children were learning to walk, they fell down and I let them. I didn’t scoop them up or kiss every boo boo. Parenting a tween is no different than a toddler, they need to be allowed to stumble. Jane will turn eleven in a few short months. It’s okay for her to miss us, to work out her own problems and to know that it’s just a matter of days before she is home.
Most likely, Jane is having the time of her life. I imagine that tomorrow when the bus brings her back to us, that she’ll look a little older, and seem a little more independent. I’m trying to prepare myself for the daughter that will emerge, but at this moment, that seems impossible.