Thursday, September 16, 2010

I swear I'm not one of those sappy mothers who can't stand to be away from my children, but...

We spent the week before Labour Day camping. It was not much different from many of our weekends this summer, or from the week-long trip we had in July.
We had campfires, roasted hotdogs and marshmallows, caught frogs, went canoeing. But it wasn't summer camping anymore. No more sleeping on top of the bags, no more crowded beaches.

We spent 4 nights in Opapiskaw nestled up right next to the lake, with no one else around. It rained every night and part of every day. It was cold. It was wet. Every time the sky cleared slightly we ran out to enjoy, only to rush back under the canopy or inside the trailer when the downpour became too much.
It was still fun. Time at what felt like our own private beach was spent digging in the sand and the boys floating in the dingy pulled by Bruce (who is the only one with a wetsuit).
The morning we woke after our last night it was bright and sunny, and time to pack up and leave. We headed farther East to Falcon Lake which is popular and crowded (especially since it was the Labour Day weekend), but also afforded us electricity and water hook-up. Our 3 nights there were dry and the days were sunny enough to warm the damp chill that had semi-permanently settled into our bones. We enjoyed the sunshine, and on the Sunday we left our trailer and headed farther East to my parent's seasonal spot, where we got windburn from zooming around in the boat much of the day. All four of us did some tubing, although Toby's trip was not surprisingly very brief, despite how slow the boat pulled him with Bruce and Luke. Luke loved every minute on that inflatable monstrosity, (which wasn't surprising after seeing him do every ride Tinkertown had to offer without blinking an eye earlier this summer). After an evening campfire the boys slept while Bruce drove us back to our campsite through the dark winding roads of the Canadian Shield from Ontario to Manitoba. Monday morning we had one last campfire for the trip. I reminded my little firebugs that this would likely be the last campfire until next summer.
Maybe it was the visiting with my parents that started it all with the riding on my dad's boat bringing back memories of when I was young, riding in and being pulled behind my uncle's boat on another inflatable monstrosity...maybe it was that we finished the summer at the same campground we started it in, as we went to Falcon Lake for the May long weekend as well...I really don't know, but that comment somehow made me introspective...and I realized that this was the end of their first year of camping. Yes, there would be next year, but they'd be old pros by then. Luke starts kindergarten this year, and it never bothered me until that moment at the campfire. I looked over at Luke now setting old dead branches he found in the bushes against the picnic table and drop kicking them into pieces small enough to throw on the fire. I expected him to knock the branch off, or somehow not be able to perform such a feat, followed by a tantrum-ish cry of frustration, but again and again the branches would break and he would expertly walk over and toss them on the fire. And I sat there feeling a strange melancholy joy, both proud that he's growing up and can do more things for himself, and mourning that he's growing up and can do more things for himself. This last year was still as circus, but it was a good more organized kind of chaos. I could grab my purse and tell the boys to get their shoes on and off I would go with my two preschoolers in tow. Many days we had places to go and people to see, but there were still many days when I would wake up that morning and decide what we were going to do for the day. And there were more day s than I like to admit where the morning would zoom by and we'd still be in pajamas, quickly dressing before we had lunch. Now those lazy days will be rare instances, and someone else will be spending their mornings with Luke. I won't be the one encouraging him to talk to and play with the other kids. I won't be the one reminding him to say please. I won't be the one praising him. As I sat by the hot fire, a chill ran through me as I realized that I would lose some control over what he does, and now he will have peers that he sees everyday influencing him. I sat there at the campfire and I couldn't stop from crying, while my puzzled husband tried to figure out what he did wrong (I felt so silly crying that I didn't want to discuss why so all I said was "I'm fine", and it really took several reassurances for him to finally get that it had nothing to do with him and even then I'm not totally sure he believed me).  I thought of running errands with only one little body trailing, only one sidekick, and I felt like I'm losing one of my wingmen.
I've now survived the start of Kindergarten without any more tears from either of us. My little boy is growing up, but I think both of us are adjusting well.

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