She’s leaving home…"

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Aug 4, 2011

Guest Contributor: 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 favourite foods and more importantly the warmth found in hugs and kisses from their parents.

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 Toronto.

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