My ten-year-old son, who attends had outdoor education last week.
At the Ware house, we all knew the week of outdoor education was going to be one where independence and self-reliance were tested.
We also felt the departure morning would be a difficult one emotionally. And it was.
There were long hugs, kisses, and cries of staying in Belmont. But with a little work, my wife was able to calm me down and our son headed off with his class.
Yes, I proved to be the weak link at departure time. My 10-year-old, my wife, and my other children handled the morning goodbye like it should be handled in a perfect world.
I, on the other hand, had trouble watching my youngest head off for what I believe I referred to as “an entire week in some far-off jungle.”
Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to call Jones Gulch a jungle or even think of it as far away, but this was the first time I had ever sent any of my children off at such a young age.
My 10-year-old had been on a few sleepovers and stayed overnight with relatives, but this was four nights away and I was terrified.
To be perfectly honest, when I said goodbye to my son, I was a model parent. I gave my son a hug, told him to be on his best behavior and have fun learning.
My wife shot me a knowing look. She could see what my son could not – that I was having trouble letting him go.
“Man, that was hard,” I said to my wife.
“I know,” she said, reassuring me.
“And you’re sure you packed enough stuff?” I asked.
“Everything on the list,” my wife said.
“Did you double check it?” I asked.
“He’ll be fine,” my wife assured me.
I looked at the list and tried to determine if the supplies would be sufficient to keep our son warm, safe, and happy.
“Take a deep breath,” my wife said.
How could I? My baby was going away. The first couple nights I slept restlessly, wondering how he was handling being away “all the way in La Honda.”
On Wednesday, I woke to find it had rained a little overnight. This sent me into another round of panic. I questioned my wife again, “You did pack his raincoat? Is he prepared for rain?”
My wife smiled. I think she enjoyed seeing me freak out. She said, “You do realize he isn’t alone in the woods?”
Of course, I realized this, but I worried nonetheless.
When our son returned home on Friday, I breathed a sigh of relief. Not that I let him know this. I welcomed him home – with a special meal – but didn’t want to show how much stress I had been under.
“Did you miss me?” my son asked.
“Were you gone all week?” I asked.
“Yes, Dad,” he said.
“I hardly noticed,” I said.