Sunday, June 28, 2015

On the Bus, Off the Bus

Not surprising to any of us that know her well, when she was younger, Jilly was a summer sleep away camp counselor for several years.  It absolutely suited her.

What we didn't know until about a year ago was that the camp in Minnesota where Jill counselor'ed was the exact camp where Linds (my sister) went when she was younger.  

(They did not overlap.  But, still, of all the camps, what are the odds?)

So, w/ her personal and positive camp experience in mind, I know Jilly is in support of Ro leaning into this adventure this year.  This is important to me.  B/c, odd as it may appear from the outside, I still feel like we make these pivotal decisions together.  

And as Ro's anxiety levels expectedly rose periodically leading up to our departure this weekend, I would attempt to reassure her, noting that both Mommy and Daddy know 'you've got this.'  

Is it a step into the unknown?  Yes.

Do any of us in our nucleus deal well w/ the unknown?  We do not.  

But, you, Rory Liv, will greet camp w/ your brand of optimism that will automatically permeate your experience.  If fun is to be had, you will have it.  

Travel up to Milwaukee yesterday - w/ Mimi and Poppy (aka Lustberg lifesavers) - was a breeze.  Ro was in her typical positive spirits.  

She carried this spirit to bed last night and woke w/ it this morning.  The kid was geared up and ready to go.  

We made our way to the designated hotel parking lot where a chunk of kids were to be picked up by charter bus, then shuttled another six hours up to northern Wisconsin.  

That's when shit went a bit sideways.  

It was time to board the bus and Ro's tears kicked in.  She Ro'd up, hugged Mimi, hugged Poppy, and fell into Daddy.  But she was still composed enough to make her way onto the bus.  

Of course we stuck around until everyone was aboard before waving them off.  Unfortunately, before departing, the bus door remained open.  That was Ro's out.  

The kid took off, down the bus steps, and back to Daddy.

"I don't think I can do this.  I don't think I can do this," she pushed out thru the stream of tears.

I'm not sure what I said.  But, to be perfectly honest, I was attempting to channel Jilly.

What would Jilly say?  What would Jilly do?  

Somehow, in an emotional haze for us both, Ro ended up back on the bus...

...then jumped back out to do it all over again.  Shit...

"Dad, I'm only nine years old," she cried out in my arms.

(Shit.  She is only nine years old.  And so logical.  Maybe this is too soon.  Maybe I need to whisk her away right now.  She doesn't need the strain, the pain this is causing her.  She's had enough.  What are you doing, man?  Save your kid.)

"Okay.  Do me a favor.  Take a deep breath."  (This always seems to calm her.  It did...a bit.)

I remember 'they' say to get down on a child's level - eye-to-eye - to underscore what you're saying.  

I knelt down.  "Ro, we're here b/c you can do this.  And you're going to have an incredible time...but, if you're not ready, let's go home.  It's okay."

I gave her the out.  

"I just don't know.  I don't know what to do."

She didn't bite.

At this point the assistant camp director interjected.  He said some things that I don't recall.  (To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure it all played out as stated above.  This is just what I'm recalling at the moment.  It was a heightened emotional state for all of us and my recall kinda sucks right now.)  

Well, she was ready to follow him - if not hesitantly - onto the bus, adding, "But, please just shut the bus door as soon as I get on."  She was implying that she may try to make a run for it again.  Oy...

Another quick hug and she was off.

Mimi, Poppy, and I waved to the dark tinted windows, hoping a smiling Ro was waving back.  

As soon as the bus was out of view, we walked back to Crindy.  

I bent over.  "I think I'm going to vomit."  

Mom and Dad said comforting things.  That's what they do.  

I didn't vomit.  

We received a couple texts from the assistant director, essentially stating that she had settled in on the bus and was getting acclimated w/ camp mates.  

Thank God.

They've arrived at camp.  I've seen a few pics and my beautiful kiddo is smiling real Rory smiles.


As I type this in an increasingly more quiet home (currently housing just Maybe and me), the absence growing in this space is not lost on me.  And I don't like it.  

Melodramatic?  Maybe.  It's my first day as a temporary empty-nester.  

The combination of your supportive texts, my parents' unbending encouragement, and knowing w/ great confidence that Jill remains in my corner is keeping me afloat today. 

But, enough about me...

All love,

J, J, & r

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