This Sunday, my husband and I will be dropping Sunny off at a week-long overnight camp. She’s in a cabin with her best Friend in the Universe, Gail, and their shared excitement and anticipation could power every town between (and including) Chicago and St. Louis, if we could get them to stay still long enough to hook ’em up to the grids.
She would have packed the moment we told her, but she didn’t have a suitcase, something she reminded us about at least twice a day during the course of the last month. My husband finally took her out last night to get a handled backpack affair that she filled to the brim ten minutes after they brought it home . . . except for her spare gym shoes, which have gone walkabout in the way peculiar to children’s shoes that were last seen in that exact spot yesterday, for given values of exact, spot, and yesterday.
The absence of these shoes has left a rift in her very soul. She’s searched absolutely everywhere for those shoes! Those shoes have disappeared off the face of the earth! She has to pack those shoes! The shoes are on the camp packing list! The camp won’t let her in without those shoes!
Heaven help the parent—seriously, I could use it—who suggests that her method of searching absolutely everywhere, which consists of standing in the middle of her room and staring straight ahead at one corner of it, might not be the most efficient use of her ocular senses or pattern recognition.
Nor, by the way, will that parent win any cause-and-effect argument over the possibility that since all her clothes are packed, she might well be running around stark naked by Friday. Or that it might be necessary for a parental figure to UNpack her suitcase to make sure all items of clothing pass the two essential Does This Item Have More Cloth Than Holes? and Have You Been Packing From The Dirty Hamper?? tests.
I’m beginning to suspect that this kind of behavior is nature’s way of encouraging parents who are perhaps uncertain about sending their child away for a whole week to not only make the decision to give their precious baby a taste of independence, but also to call the camp to see if they can be dropped off a bit early.
Like, say, Thursday.
Jane, of course, is thrilled about Sunny’s impending departure as well, though no one would choose a preteen to power anything except a universal sense of sullen ennui.* She is visibly happy about having the bathroom to herself, presumably so we won’t have another repeat of this morning’s argument:
“Move, pleathe, Janie.”
“Buh ah havtha thpit out mah foofpathe!”
“You’ll have to wait until I’m done!”
“Ah wath ‘ere furtht, ‘anie! Moo-ooom!”
Please not that in that bathroom, the mirror and counter both stretch the length of the room. But in Janie’s estimation, only the part of the mirror in front of the single sink provides the One True Reflection** by which her hair may be accurately parted, for a given value of accuracy. ***
On further thought, perhaps we should have signed both kids up for camp. It would be nice to see what having a toothpaste-free countertop is like.
*We wouldn’t even need cables—it’s all in the cloud.
** I personally like to stand on the left side, where the vent wafts warm or cold air on my toes, depending on the weather, but it’s been made clear to me that I’m too old to get anything I don’t get.