Funny, when our kids go to camp, then return home, it always seems as if I have to go into Overdrive. Emotions are brought to the surface as events of the week are processed, an it leaves me wondering if every parent of kids who go to church camp experience this. Dominick and I are deeply moved by the ways in which our kids's lives are transformed by their time at camp, and it is worth everything in the world to us to get them there. However, I always end up feeling as if I need a week vacation after tending to their emotional needs.
This year has, by far, been the year of biggest emotions ever. Lots of things have arisen, some of which I am not at liberty to share at this time. Things that will take us years to work with, I fear. It's also very, very good that such things have surfaced.
Angela and Matt came home anxious to talk about the topics of conversation at camp. A missionary with the YMCA working in India was a speaker, and Angela was enthralled by him, as she is with all things from India. She participated in groups about social justice issues, and it is so easy to see a future for her doing something to advocate for others, whether it be a vocation or an avocation. Matthew spoke for the very first time openly and clearly about his developing faith and his perceptions. While hearing about many kids' claiming deism but not necessarily Christianity, Matt said that for the first time, he really was able to understand how much he had learned from Jesus' teachings, and though he could never be a literalist when it comes to Scripture, he now firmly sees that he claims Christianity for himself because he believes that the things Jesus taught were the best path for a fulfilling life...and the path he genuinely wants to walk.
The struggle with the "tough girl" image for Angela was something that came up for her, and we had long, tear filled conversations about how much she...and I...lost by not belonging to one another when she was younger. We spoke of missed cuddle time, of nurturing that is awkward to offer in ways more acceptable with younger children, and of her desire to somehow get in touch with her softer self and help bring that forward more in her life. Kids who have to protect themselves and younger siblings at very young ages find "Tough Kid" as default mode. We made a list of ideas for things she could do to help bring that side to the forefront, and we both agreed that after the new year we are going to work hard on finding her a volunteer position working with the elderly, as that is when we both see her very tender side come forth.
Attending the high school camp now, our kids are around larger groups of kids their own age than they usually get to mingle with, and for the most part these are "big city" kids, not "country bumpkins". It was eye opening for both to listen to the revelations shared by others about drugs, alcohol and sexual exploits of kids their own ages, or younger, as others found a safe place to talk about their concerns for their lives. This was not bragging, this was sharing about using other things to fill up the empty places that so many young people walk around with. I asked them both if they felt odd when such conversations came up, thinking Matt in particular might feel awkward or nerdy being such an "inexperienced" square. He sat thoughtfully for a moment, then responded, "No, Mom, I felt lucky that I didn't need all of that to feel mature, and that I don't have to go looking for things to help me feel whole. It didn't bother me at all to talk about not doing that kind of stuff. That's not what makes someone a man, or an adult, and I have too much I want to do with my life to screw it up with that." We were so happy that he seemed confident and self-assured about who he is in the world.
Both of them seem just a bit further down the road to adulthood after this camp, in all the right ways.
Summer is fading fast, and we are gearing up for a new school year. The printer has been running, wildly spewing out page after page of curriculum as I prepare writing notebooks, and other items. Volleyball begins in 3 weeks or so, and we have a trip to Shriner's for Matthew next week, and I have a trip to California to visit mom and see how she is doing later in August. I'm trying to find more time to write blog posts, and I am hoping that life will get back into a bit of a routine so I can create space for that. I miss it when I don't blog, even though I know it is pretty "half baked" most of the time. It is my "working it out" place, and right now, there is a lot to work out in our lives.
Off to sleep now...