At the airport I showed him the two books I had snuck into his backpack--Survivor Kid, a book he's had his eye on since reading the review in the kids' section of the newspaper, and Harry Potter Film Wizardry. He didn't falter one bit hefting his backpack on his back, swinging Whaley (his beloved stuffed orca, which has accompanied him on many plane flights and camping trips) gently by the tail, and walking on the plane.
Now that he's a seasoned traveler, I had only the slightest bit of a watery eye after saying our goodbyes; picked up by his grandparents, he was obviously going to be in good hands. He spent last night with Grandpa and Merry. He fed horses, collected eggs from the chickens, and ate barbecued chicken with apricot-cherry pie for dessert out on the patio overlooking the redwoods and the ocean. But unlike his recent travels to see his other grandparents, he won't be coming home after a long weekend. In about three hours, he's going to Plantation Farm Camp for
You may be thinking, 'what kind of a parent would send their 8-year old away three states away where he doesn't know anybody for nearly a month??!?' Before you call Child Protective Services, know that the camp is literally down the road from Sam's dad's property. We visit the camp each time we are out there; in fact, the first pool Jackson ever swam in is the camp's pool, at the ripe old age of two months. The pond where he will canoe and kayak is actually on Sam's dad's property, and the camp horses graze right outside of Sam's dad's house.
|where Jackson will be sleeping|
Despite all the familiarity with the location, 3.5 weeks is still an awfully long time to be without family. Since the opportunity was presented to him, though, he has been unwaveringly positive and excitedly counting down the days as the date circled on our calendar approached.
We spent the last few days leading up to his departure engaged in some very important tasks--I taught him how to make friendship bracelets, which everyone knows is an essential camp accessory. Funny how at least 20 years have gone by since I made my last friendship bracelet, but it really is just like riding a bike. I whipped a couple of those suckers out, and Jackson is now properly adorned with two bracelets from me and one made by him.
I also ventured down to the basement and dusted off my trusty Disney-issued carrying case with the VHS tape set of the first season of Bug Juice, a children's reality series about camp (that incidentally, features yours truly as a counselor). I hadn't seen it in at least ten years, and the boys and I watched back-to-back episodes ("can we watch one more, mom?") showing all the glorious drama, excitement, and fun that is the summer camp experience. Sam and I glanced at each other and cringed as campers dealt with homesickness, but it was helpful for Jackson to see that feeling homesick is completely normal. At one point he turned to me and said that he thought he might feel a little homesick as well. I said I think he might too, but he'd also be having a lot of fun.
I spoke with him briefly this morning, after his hearty pre-camp breakfast of three belgian waffles with strawberries. From here on out, our communication will jump back a century, and I'll rely on his letters for details about his life until July 14. I have always thought living in frontier times would have been cool, so here's my chance for a glimpse of it.
Everything has gone so smoothly so far, I had just about breathed a sigh of mom-relief. And then I learned that Whaley--who Jackson cares for so much that he leaves his backpack opened enough to give him air--is not packed safely in his camp trunk or in his rightful place with Jackson holding him by the tail. In all the excitement of landing in San Francisco, Whaley was left sitting in the back row of Flight 653, and is currently separated from the boy who adores him.
Say a prayer to the Frontier Airlines Lost and Found gods that Whaley and Jackson will be reunited in the very near future, and that Jackson can rally through the first few days of camp without him.