I’m writing this letter just before I drive my 15-year-old son to the camp bus. Confession: I have no idea what’s inside his luggage. And it’s not my fault. When he unpacks, please don’t say, “What kind of mother lets her son go to camp like this?” Please don’t even think it.
I’ll tell you what kind of mother lets this happen. The kind of mother who has been asking and begging her son to begin packing three weeks ago. “Avi,” I’d said, “if you need stuff, I need to know now. We can shop online, or go to the stores. But I’m squeezing in your shopping with everyone else’s needs — including my full-time job — so please let me know.”
Of course, he did not. He would not. And it began to sound like a Dr. Suess book: Would you, could you, get in the car? He would not, could not, get in the car.
Short of tying his hands behind his back and forcing him into the car, I could not get him to go shopping. And when Avi did finally grace me with one shopping trip, he casually strolled around the store, admiring everything, but he avoided every aisle that contained anything he actually needed.
And so the weeks before camp went by. I went to work, I came home. I’d walk past my 12-year-old daughter’s room, and there she was, labeling, folding, and packing her clothing, I heard her singing as she crossed the items she packed off the camp list. When I’d walk past my son’s room, it was often empty. He’d be riding his bike or out with friends. When he was home, he’d be pfumfering around, or playing computer games.
I know; I know exactly what you’re thinking. Turn off the computer and tell him to pack. Believe me, I tried that. He still wouldn’t pack. Exasperated, I decided to take a step back. The boy is almost 16 years old.
I cannot and will not pack for him. What kind of mother goes through a 15 year old’s drawers and starts folding and packing? To me, that bordered on weird. The boy is taller than me, and almost an adult. He must take responsibility! I decided to think beyond myself and do my future daughter-in-law a favor.
I gave him the camp list, and told him to pack. And he did. Twelve hours before his luggage left.
And so, dear counselor, I do not know what’s in his bag. Don’t blame me. The boy has to grow up at some point. I decided to start at a smart place. A place where I would not be around to pick up his pieces.
But you are there. Lucky you gets to be part of this process! Please be nice and kind to Avi. He’s learning.
And I’ll tip you well when I come up next week. I know you deserve it!
A Mom Now on Summer Vacation
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 603)
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