It’s the Little Things

By Anne Mead

Since we’ve been back in Colorado, our boys have been going to school in the mornings. It has been great for so many reasons- socialization, structure, time for us to work from home, development, education, and more. For Phen, he could not wait to return. As much as he loves living at GRP, he missed his friends and was excited to have similar aged kids to play with. Needless to say, he has jumped back into school and all the projects and playtime with classmates.

Our little one, Hawkins, I do not think knew what he was in for. After staying home with me all last winter, he is now completely mobile and might I add toddler-esc destructive. As much as I love his toothy smiles and sweet snuggles, I knew in order for me to interview and hire any staff for 2016, process applications, and do all of my other off-season camp projects, we had to send him to school a few mornings a week.

As stated before, sending them to school has been fabulous on so many accounts but so hard at the same time. Mainly- the drop off for Hawkins. The first few days, I found myself sneaking out of the room once he was engaged with a new toy or friend. This smart little kiddo figured out my plan pretty quickly, and I found myself at drop-off with a suction cupped 1.5 year old from my knee down. It was all my heart could do to pull him off my leg and hand him crying to one of the kind teachers. From that stage we moved to Dada (aka Stephen) only being allowed to drop him off. Things seemed to get better with this transition, but Hawkins still got teary-eyed and clingy most mornings. Then 2 weeks into our return, Stephen took the boys to school one morning. He helped each boy get undressed in the mud room, then Phen came and gave him a big hug and said, “bye, bye Dada.” Then walked into the preschool room. Hawkins then proceeded to do exactly the same. Hug Dada, say bye-bye, and walk away all smiles.

Hearing this story upon Stephen’s return from school made me so happy. My little one is growing up and figuring it all out in his little head (well at the least the drop off part, recognizing we will indeed return to pick him up, and knowing he is with his brother all day- maybe?).

The following Friday, I got to experience this scene myself and get a hug too. Watching my child walk away, confident, happy, and excited for the day brought tears to my eyes and made my heart smile. Its bittersweet for your kids to not need you for a moment or more. This is the first step of many for Hawkins and us as parents in this relationship.

Makes me think a lot about parents dropping their kids off for summer camp. A week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks! The joy you must have giving your child this opportunity to grow and have some incredible life experiences away from you but also the sadness in not being with them everyday, watching them have these life experiences. Being reduced to tongue tied retails of the time away from you in the car ride home, pictures, and story blogs about the general happenings of camp. Its hard. But as you must know and value, because you do it, so important and so good for our children’s development to have those experiences away us parents. If you want to read a great book about this very thing, check out Homesick and Happy by Dr. Michael Thompson. (http://michaelthompson-phd.com/books/homesick-and-happy/)

I know how much I miss my boys each day while they are at school and how excited I am to pick them up after a mere 5 hours away. Most days that moment, when I first see them and they come running with a hug into my arms, is one of my most favorite parts of the day. It makes my heart smile so big.

Walking Home from School in Silverton

Just like Hawkins becoming more confident each day as he walks away from us into his classroom, we are practicing as parents to be more confident to let them go for these longer life experiences. They will be good- there is no doubt about that. I know this because I see it happen in so many children’s lives each summer. I see growth happen. Everyday. Every hour actually in so many children. And I watch them be successful in a safe and loving environment. A place where they know if they fail, its ok. Because maybe later in the day or tomorrow, they might try again. And when they do- they might succeed. It’s a beautiful thing to see self worth and confidence develop. To see problem solving happening in a non-threatening environment. To see the camp experience help grow a child in a positive way. Again- it makes my heart smile. Every day.