I hope you’re enjoying camp. No that’s not true. I hope you’re simply enduring camp and missing us so terribly that when you come home you’ll make us pinky promise to never ever ever send you back. You’ll beg us to never ever ever let you wander away for weeks at a time -- to a place where you are forced to make your own bed, do your own laundry, to brush your own hair (or not), to make your own decisions about what and how much to eat for dinner. Maybe in a few weeks you’ll come back shaky and unsure of who you are, a little younger and more vulnerable and needier than before. Don’t worry. We’re your family. We’ll help you recover. We’ll build up your spirits again in no time at all. You’re our little girl, after all. And you’ll sleep under our roof every day and we’ll take care of each other from now until forever.
Whose idea was this whole camp thing anyway?
No, that’s not what I meant. I meant to say that I hope you adore everything about camp (even the singing, which you pretend to hate when you’re home). I hope you cherish every campfire and canoe ride. I hope you get plenty of use out of that zip line and the Gaga court, and that you play in the mud and collect frogs and tell ghost stories and talk the other girls into some elaborate plot to embarrass the counselors.
Milk this time for all it’s worth, because I need you to get this out of your system – this whole growing up and apart thing. Dad and I are emotionally unprepared for it and it’s simply not fair to any of us. Dad and I like to think of ourselves as plan-ful people. But there’s just no planning for this, is there? This merciless metamorphosis? This inexorable pulling away and opening up to the world around you? Who said you could begin to leave us so soon?
What if I forbid it? What if I said no screen time until you stop acting your age? What if I promised to leave your stuffed animals – all 158 of them – slouching on your bed until you’re 90? I won’t touch them, I swear. What if Percy Jackson and Calvin and Hobbes and Phineas and Ferb were the beginning and the end for you? They’d be your loyal, lifelong companions, I’m sure. How about if I cook delicious dinners for you every night and bake you chocolate things that make you swoon? I’ll wash your clothes and do your dishes as often as you need. I’ll take care of you right here at home until I’m too feeble to stand, and then I’ll make your brother do it.
All you have to do is stop this relentless blossoming. When you finally get home, stay home. Stay 10. Or younger – I don’t care, as long as it’s not older! Promise me that when you come back from camp, you’ll end this ridiculous maturation process. I don’t want to talk about drugs and bullying and training bras (though we’ve already started, haven’t we?). I don’t want to worry about crushes and cliques and permanent records. And I certainly don’t want to talk about what comes after that. Because of course it’s not just the talking – it’s the knowledge that sooner or later you’ll be out there in the world, beyond our reach. Like now, with you taking your first steps down the path to independence. It is painful for all of us, and we shouldn’t have to endure it. We need to fight against it together.
So if you can just do this one thing for me – stay 10 forever – I promise that when you get home I’ll keep you with me. I promise to shelter and care for you always, and you’ll never ever ever have to go away again. Deal?