My eight year old went to sleep away camp for two weeks this summer. He was crazy young and I felt moderately insane as I watched him board the bus, but even in that moment, I knew it would be the best decision for him. And it was. But here’s the thing. He didn’t tell me one thing about it. Not one letter, post card, quick note. I heard nothing. For two weeks (14 days which is roughly 336 hours) I had to rely on the camp’s website to fill me in.
And they did. I studied each and every picture posted on the camp’s website. He looked joyous and he looked dirty, probably the two pillars of any camp experience. I wasn’t all that convinced he was showering. But I knew he was happy.
I made a file of all the pictures he was in on the website and I organized them by day. The night before he came home from camp I dragged them all into mypublisher.com (full disclosure: I’m not getting paid to advertise their site. I just happen to love them especially when they have good deals). So this small, cute, sweet photo book was saved on my computer for when my son got home.
He came home with paint in his hair, with dirty fingernails, with a huge smile. I went out and bought bubble bath and dumped him into a tub until he was a clean wrinkly kid. Then I casually mentioned the album I had made. “Maybe you could give me a caption or two for the pictures,” I suggested. And then I got my gift of the summer. He went through each picture and talked and talked and talked. I heard about his friends, and his new best friend and about annoying girls and about his counselors and his soccer games and the food he loved and the food he hated and the song that had been written for him.
There are times when our kids move on, when we don’t get the front seat to watch their show unfold on stage. But at this moment, I felt like I managed the greatest parenting move. I got to build an album of his memories and watch as he relived the moments that I only saw on screen.