Sleep-away camp was never in the cards for me. I devoured fictional books such as There’s a Bat in Bunk Five and Baby-Sitters Club Super-Special 2: Baby-Sitters Summer Vacation, but when it came to reality, there was absolutely no way that I was leaving my house, my bed, my air-conditioned room, my bathtub, my carefully curated pantry of snack foods. I was not about to sleep in a bunk bed in a rustic cabin with other children or go hiking or eat mess hall food, not in a million years. I didn’t even really like sleepovers, to be honest.
Ruby, who continues to be the anti-me-as-a-child, is intrigued by the idea of camp – but this year, she has opted instead to spend the bulk of her summer vacation in St. Louis with her grandparents.
“How long do you want to visit Nana and Pops,” I asked her a few weeks ago.
“A month!” she said.
“A month?” I said. “No. That is too long. How about 10 days?”
“No,” she said, firmly. “A month.”
I thought her dad wouldn’t go for it, but he did. I thought her grandparents might veto it, but they didn’t. I was left in the position of either (A) putting my foot down and saying no when everyone else was saying yes or (B) letting Ruby make her own decisions about how she wants to spend her time while making it very clear that if she changed her mind, someone would come get her and bring her home. I decided to go with Option B, but I am holding on to the hope that Ruby doesn’t fully understand how long a month really is and will want to come home sooner because I have no idea how I will manage a whole month without her.
“I know exactly how long a month is, Mom,” she tells me, hands on hips. “It’s four weeks, basically. Mostly 30 or 31 days, except February.”
That is the textbook definition, yes, but it feels so much longer than it sounds. When Ruby was gone for a week at Christmas, the fifth day of her absence found me sitting pathetically on her bedroom floor doing a sticker mosaic she had started before she left. How will I make it a month?
“I’ll FaceTime you,” she says, casually. “We can Skype.”
It won’t be the same.
She leaves tomorrow. She is growing up. She is not my baby anymore. I know it will be good for her. I know she wants the independence and adventure. But I don’t think there are enough sticker mosaics in the world to get me through.
Maybe I’ll have to take up needlepoint.