by Stephen Gosewich, Dad blogger
We said goodbye to our 10 year old yesterday as she made her way, for the very
first time, to an overnight camp for a “test drive”. She will be gone
for a week.
As an aspiring “enlightened male”, I can’t help but think back to when I
was a kid, in her very same shoes and what it felt like to be separated from my
family for more than just a night or two, for the very first time.
Remember, up until this point, Annie has pretty much been in her own bed every night
(with the exception of an occasional sleep over party at a friend’s house…or
maybe once in a blue moon a sleep over at her grandparent’s house). By all
accounts, she has fallen asleep under our roof.
Everything that is familiar to her has suddenly been removed from her world. The familiar
sounds of our home…the different recognizable creaks the stairs make
when one of us is climbing them; her
bedroom, the only bedroom she has ever known, albeit it small, where she has
spent countless hours playing on her own or with a friend; all the familiar
smells of our home. She knows her way around our little house and is very
comfortable with it.
When we dropped her at the bus the other day, she was venturing off into something
she knew absolutely nothing about. All the sounds, sights and sensations were
all new. As a former kid and camper who was once there, I know this all can be
incredibly scary and exhilarating at the same time. The feeling of separation
for some kids as they step on to the bus that will take them away from all that
they know, can be incredibly stressful, yet some kids can manage it perfectly
well. Could it be because of the excitement of the moment? Could it be because
of friends that they can go to for support making that initial separation
easier to manage?
I remember stepping onto the bus that whisked me away was, at the time, one of
the hardest things I had ever endured. I never cried or got emotional but so
many kids around me did and you know what can happen when one or two kids
starting balling their eyes out? It starts to spread like the plague. I held it
together (must be a macho thing…go figure) but I knew that I would miss all
that I was most familiar with…yes, including my parents and sister.
Annie, on the other hand, got down to business with a smile as big as they come. She
was doing this camp thing with her very best friend who suggested going to
sleepover camp in the first place. They were on the bus together…sharing
laughs, snacks, thoughts and teeny-bopper magazines with images of Justin
Bieber and Bruno Mars to pass the time while the bus got ready to depart.
After all were bordered surrounded by parents (some of which who were weeping…now I
know where the weepy kids get it from), they finally left…waving and blowing
kisses. The two buses drove off…and suddenly it was very quiet.
She was gone.
As I was driving back home with my wife, I told her that it wouldn’t really sink
in that she was gone until the next day…because at that moment, it felt like
she was headed out on a day trip and we would see her later on.
Well, here we are the next day and I cannot stop thinking about her. We already
received an email from the camp director indicating that all the new kids had
settled in nicely and he tempted us with some pics of the new arrivals. I was
only able to see one pic of my little Annie…but the good news was, she had a
great big smile on her face.
I hope she got through the first night ok. I remember how difficult night time
can be at camp because that is when homesickness usually settles in. The day is
over and all you have to keep you company are your thoughts. Some kids just
review the day in their minds and they drift off to sleep…others think about
all that they left behind; their house, their bedroom, all their yummy favorite
foods and more importantly the warmth found in hugs and kisses from their
I would like to think that I gave Annie enough hugs and kisses to keep her filled
with warmth that will last her the entire week that she is away and that any
time she has a little hesitation over anything and she begins to feel a bit
blue that the warmth of our love turns her sadness in happiness.
I cannot wait to see her again…I am counting down the days until I get to feel
her arms wrap around me and to feel the softness of her cheeks as I kiss her
and the pure sweetness of her voice as she tells me all about her life
experience at camp being away from us for the very first time signifying the beginning
of her growing independence as an individual.
Stephen Gosewich is an aspiring enlightened male. He spends his weekdays as a
commercial real estate professional, and all other times with his wonderfully
supportive wife and two very active and inspiring daughters. He lives in