Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Plus Minus

Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep...click. I press down on the alarm and sit up in bed. 5:30 am on Sunday morning and I already have a full agenda. I splash some water on my face and head into the kitchen. I open the fridge and take out the white plastic mixing bowl. I peel off the plastic wrap and frown. The pancake batter I made the night before looks a bit solid. "Oh no, it's too cold." I say quietly. I take a big fork out of the drawer and proceed to whip the pasty batter back into shape. I add a little milk, a few squirts of honey, and whip it some more and soon its back to a workable liquid. The waffle maker is already warm and like a cement mixer setting its first sidewalk, I lay the foundation for waffle number one. I reach into the freezer and grab the coffee. I scoop out ten cups full into the machine, and even though I will be the only one having coffee, I make enough to fill up the pitcher for ice coffee during the week. I am on my third waffle when I hear footsteps entering the kitchen. "Morning..." I yell as I pull plates out of the cupboard. My son is groggy but all smiles as it is now mere hours before he leaves for his first adventure into sleep-away camp.

I never went to sleep-away camp as a child. I never went away to college either so I have absolutely no point of reference for his state of mind right now. I have no words of wisdom, no past "when I went to sleep-away camp..." anecdote to draw upon. This is the first of many adventures he will need to guide me through.

We finish our waffle breakfast and my wife starts to clear the table as my son gets dressed. He is sleepy and excited at the same time, a chatterbox on one hand and yawning loudly on the other, which is interesting to witness. Our teenage niece is visiting with us and decides to join us in our very early morning to see her cousin off. After some last minute gear checks we make out way out for the drive to the drop off point.

We arrive at the Raddison Hotel parking lot and settle into a spot. All around us are sleepy parents holding various brands of coffee to-go cups with anxious campers in tow. We see four buses idling on the side of the parking lot and stroll over to see whats up. I find a group of college age kids in a huddle figuring out which bus will be at their command when they all stop and turn to look at me. "Hello, are you here for the camp?" I look at them and I look at my son, all five of them wearing a similar t-shirt with the name "MANITOU" stamped across the chest. I think we found the right place. We check in and after a game of bus roulette, they finally decide which bus will take my son to Maine. 

The crowd starts to thicken around the buses as it is getting closer to departure time. Kids running and greeting others who they have not seen since camp ended last August and parents chatting about what a great day it is and what they are going to do while their kids are away. I snap a few pictures of my son with my wife, with his cousin, with me, with the bus, with a light post, with other kid's parents, what ever I can get in before the moment is gone. "You are going to have such a good time!" is echoed by us and every other parent in the vicinity. You get a sense from the campers that they just want to leave already, my son included. 

"Ok everyone on the bus, we are ready to move out!" one of the counselors hollers. In a flash, the parents get in one last hug before the boys can break away. My wife gives her boy one last hug and he turns to me. I give him a quick hug and say "Don't worry about anything here, just take care of yourself and have the greatest time." "I will..." he manages to get out while is face is buried in my shoulder. As the final kid boards the bus, the door closes and the bus driver revs the engine. Outside is a sea of waving hands from the suddenly childless parents. The parking lot is a traffic jam of anxious parents who now want to return home and go back to sleep in their now tranquil homes. As I drive I imagine my son on the bus, meeting the staff and the kids, not knowing what will take place over the next seven weeks, but will have a lifetime of memories to look back on... 


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.