This morning, both Jake and Nathan left to go to scout camps. Jake is going to Calf Creek Falls, Lake Powell (only my favorite place on earth!), and Zion National Park to hike the Narrows. (I am jealous of every single bit of his trip.) Nathan is going to Scofield Scout Camp, where he'll work on some of his merit badges and have fun with his friend Jacob. (I just wrote, perfected, and then deleted an elegantly-barbed statement there about the issues he's had with his neighborhood "friends" but I decided that even though I counteracted it with how awesome his friend Jacob is and how he doesn't play the stupid (and oddly Mean-Girl-esque) games the other boys do, it was too bitter; I only included this parenthetical because it matters further on.) We had a great time yesterday getting them ready and all packed, and they both went to bed excited. I was excited for them, too.
But then I dreamed all night of bad things happening: fires and earthquakes and stumbles over cliffs. When my alarm woke me at 6:00, I stayed in bed for a few minutes and my mind took me on one of those horrible loops when you're only half-awake and you're watching something horrible happen to your child only you can't stop the thought nor the horrible. So many bad things could happen. Especially when you factor in this one fact: there are no women involved in these trips. No one to remind kids to wear a life jacket and to put on some sunscreen and to drink enough water because in my experience it's usually the mom reminding even the dad about that kind of stuff.
I suffered through a thousand mishaps before the snooze alarm yanked me out: Jacob drowning, or jumping off a cliff into too-shallow water and coming home paralyzed, or getting caught in a flash flood in the canyon or lost on his hike or trying to jump over a fire and getting burned. Nathan lost in the woods or shot by an careless arrow or felled by a random falling tree branch or trying to jump over a fire and getting burned.
It was all I could do to get out of bed and drop them off.
(As I was getting out of bed, Kendell said "Make sure you remind Jake to watch out for snakes because Lake Powell is covered with snakes" and part of me rolled my eyes because in all the trips I took to Lake Powell I never once saw a snake and part of me added a True-Grit-esque rattlesnake pit of death to my list of possibilities.)
Whenever I send them to overnight campouts, I always say the same thing: please don't do anything stupid and don't try to jump over the fire. I said the same thing this time, only I followed it up with a litany of things to do, too. (Wear sunscreen and stay with the group and be mellow.) And a prayer in my heart. And what else can I do but send them off?
The literal second I walked into my quiet, early-morning kitchen I started crying. I know...could I be a bigger baby? Could I have less faith and trust? Could I stop being so overprotective? But it was a combination of watching the friend trouble unfold right there at the drop off — the real, true bad stuff—and the imaginary horribles. I just wish: that I could make things smoother for them somehow. That I hadn't cursed them somehow with a dearth of true friends. That horrible things didn't happen ever. That they didn't have to feel any pain or sorrow, which is possibly every mother's wish. Except I know, of course, that only having good things wouldn't make them strong. So then I just wept for how hard life is and I prayed furiously that they'd be OK and that if they weren't I could deal with it.
And then I went back to bed until 10:30 which is probably what I needed the most anyway.
Do your kids go off to summer camps? Do you have a meltdown when they do?