"...at band camp..."
I just thought I'd get that out of the way. You'll see why in a minute.
I dropped off Nolan today at the school. He is going up north, a few hours away, to band camp. He'll be back on Friday.
All last week he would alternately sulk or make a face every time I reminded him of it or asked him about it. I was getting pretty irritated with him over his attitude until I decided to make a stab at why he was being such a pill.
"Is it because you know this means school will start soon?"
I opened the flood gates.
"Yeah. I'll only have ONE WEEK after I get back off, and then school starts again. That sucks."
Are you kidding me? I thought. A week up in the cooler climes, doing something you enjoy, away from us. No parents. No siblings. It's interrupting his busy schedule of sleeping in, playing Halo, and complaining about Ben; what was I thinking? Of course he's upset.
Suck it up, buddy.
Anyway, as with most camps, there was a list of items to take along. I've been collecting what he needed to take over the summer, and I was fairly comfortable (okay, and maybe, a little smug) that I had it under control. Missing him aside, this should be a piece of cake, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep last night. I went through the list in my head again. Check, check, check...I mentally ticked. Forms. Don't forget to fill out those extra forms, was the last thought I had before I nodded off.
This morning, I had him in the shower, all his stuff laid out to be put in his bag. I was filling out the forms, and I was copying the list of "field trips" aka 'away games and festivals' for myself when I got to "ASU Band Day."
This, for some reason, conjured up an image of...marching bands. (duh) More importantly, it conjured up an image of the thing that holds the music onto your instrument...because playing with two hands and holding your music, for someone who plays with two hands, like a clarinet, is probably important. (Although, I have seen music held in one hand, while the player wobbily held it and played his trumpet, while swaying, thanks to pregame libating...I won't name names; suffice to say, I know it can be done, just not in my son's case.)
I didn't even know what the thing is called, but was set straight soon enough after consulting the expert swayer, and as soon as Nolan was packed, we set off for the music store.
I managed to mangle the pronunciation of "lyre" but the guy understood what we needed, and I also picked up the flip-chart music holder that attaches to it. (I may be slow on the uptake, but I am thorough.) We brought the lyre home only to discover it didn't fit right.
Back to the music store, this time with all his gear as time was getting short. He went into the store, receipt in hand, as well as the part of the barrel he thought he needed to fit it on. A few minutes later, he emerged emptyhanded. I assumed he needed more money, but no, he needed the entire clarinet. My eye started twitching as I bit my tongue--I'd suggested that to begin with--and I waited long enough to wonder what was up, when suddenly, he reappeared. I couldn't resist asking, "What happened?" "He was putting it on the wrong part." "He was?" "He was. I was. We both were."
I kept my laughter and further comment to myself.
I got him a bite to eat, and dropped him off at the school. He probably would have bid me adieu in the parking lot, but there was a sign that said "Parents must check in".
To think, I shaved the "annoying overbearing mother" mole off my forehead, this would have been a fabulous opportunity.....
Once inside, we were directed on where to place his luggage and such, and I tried not to wince at the gross state of his pillowcase ("at least I'll know it's mine") and we got his nametag (haha!) and I handed over the forms. I looked around the room at these kids, none of whom I knew, and I spotted a neighbor of ours. I don't really know her either, just in passing, but when you are sending your child away, it's nice to see a familiar parental face. I said hi, introduced her to Nolan, and could almost hear him groan inwardly.
"Are you coming?" she asked. I knew already, from her past record, she was more than likely going along. "No. I was going to, but by the time I put my name in the hat, there were enough parents along." "Is this his first time?" "Yes." "I'll keep an eye on him." This time, I know I heard Nolan groan inwardly.
We stepped aside together, and I asked him if he was okay. "Yes." He paused. "I'll be fine." "You want me to leave, don't you?" "Yup." I stood there, not wanting to leave, knowing I had to...stalling, I asked, "Do you see anyone here you know?" "Yes." I thought, foolishly, he'd take me over to them, but he stood there, 'mom-go-already' all over his face. I told him to call us later tonight, and I left. Before I went out the door, I looked over my shoulder at him. He was already with the kids he knew.
When I was driving away, and I felt the pang I knew I would, but I swallowed it. I wouldn't want any of the people driving up to see me wiping away a tear or two in the car, lest I embarrass the boy. (As if anyone would recognize me.)
I hold my children close (sometimes too close to those on the outside) and that always makes separations like these difficult. The truth is, I wanted to go along, I did want to chaperone. But I know that the child needs his space, he needs to have these experiences away from me in order to grow. And so do I.
I know he will be okay and I hope he has a good time.
Hopefully, on his return, he's not going to begin any of his stories...the way I started this one.