Ahhh, school camp. It’s a challenge for a parent, is it not?
Firstly the packing list. ‘Old t–shirts and shorts’. Read: Complete and Utter Fashion Dilemma, might as well have written ‘pressure mum and dad to buy you the latest Nike gold plated futsal sneakers and scuff appropriately so it looks like you always wear this kind of stuff camping’. ‘Underclothes’ – will he remember to actually put them on? And a ‘Sleep Sheet’ – seriously? A sheet inside a sleeping bag is just a recipe to wake up wrapped like an Egyptian mummy – best use for it is to give it to Tarzan.
Secondly, interpreting the safety and medical forms. ‘Signs of asthma’ – well, can’t breathe is a good start but if you want anything pre-emptive his mother is just going to have to come because I’m the only one who can tell, ok? Then we have the list, ticking yes or no, of all possible ailments – heart problems, night terrors, broken bones, concussion, operations – no, no, no, he doesn’t want any of these, thank you very much, you just bring him back the way I packed him off. Then there’s the good old ‘other’ at the end of the list – I take this to mean they want to know he sneezes 3 and a half times when he gets up and that if he wears soccer shin pads too much he will get eczema underneath them so you need to line them with a Libra Thin and Breathable. Well, you asked.
And thirdly, and most importantly, THE WORRY! Will he have enough to eat? Will they burn the toast, just exactly the way his mum does? Will he make it to the toilet during the night? And if he does, will he remember it goes in the toilet, not all around it? Will he have a friend in his room? Will he spew on the teacher on the bus – did they read my note? (actually, bad luck if they didn’t).
And, will I survive missing my baby so much it hurts in my chest and my stomach till he returns?
Yes, I will. Because I remember how he stood taller when he returned from the last one, like he’d had a concentrated infusion of confidence for the past three days. I remember that smile which tells me he’s feeling on top of the world. I remember how he still talks about the log wrestling from his first camp all those years ago, and though I have many and varied skills as a mother, giving him a chance to log wrestle is not one of them. And I absolutely remember his answer when I asked him if he’d been ok while he was away: “Yes mum, I had a really great time.” He showered me with the biggest hug I have ever had. “But it’s good to be home now.”