Uuuuugh. The oldest girl is 9. This is her first time at sleep away camp. For a week as Monday approached I walked around with my stomach dropping lower and lower. I wasn’t afraid or worried. Nervous maybe? Maybe. Later that morning when she simply waved bye over her shoulder with no hug, no kiss, no last minute reassurances…I just felt sad.
The night before I’d packed with her and checked and rechecked and triple checked the list to be sure she had everything. I went to bed at 1:40. I got back up at 5:40. We were out the door by 7:40. I was so proud (by now you know about my timeliness woes). It didn’t dawn on me until we went to get out of the car that I’d left my purse on the sofa (insert eye roll and womp womp womp audio here).
I hadn’t thought I could or would miss her so much. When she stayed with one of my closest friends in North Carolina a few weeks earlier all I had to do was call. But at sleep away camp, all I could do was guess how it was going. My mind was working overtime on potential happenings: the girl has drowned, the girl has been poisoned, maimed, forgotten, lost, traumatized. The girl wants to come home. In actuality, only the latter two really happened. Every night she wished she could come home. The days were great: she learned to ride a bike, she won best craft, she performed with her cousin in a talent showcase. But at night it was different. Why? Three words. Old. Man. Clutch.
Understand, now. Daddy has talked about and teased about Old Man Clutch for years! She knows full well that he isn’t real. But, in all fairness to her 9 yr old mind, she was away from home, in the dark woods sleeping next to a dilapidated shack that the counselors said was where he lived. OK, I get the fright. But, they took it too far. One night they flicked the lights too much and said he was coming too many times and finally, she broke. She threw up in her bed because she was so frightened. My heart ached to find that out. To know your child is going through something that you can’t control or stop is simply heartbreaking.
Only recently has she started talking more about it in detail. It’s funny, though. I feel exceptionally sad and sorry that she had horrible night experiences. Yet I’m hoping she’ll go back next year.