I dropped my daughter off at summer camp last week. We drove out, she and I, with 3 of her friends who were going as well. The girls played the radio loudly, told inside jokes, snickered at pics on their phones and texted. Lots of texting because they were going to be without phones and “away from all their friends for, like, a whole week.”
I learned about halfway to our destination that this is a coed camp. I’m not sure how that one slipped by but too late to do anything about it now. Not that I could or would do anything about it.
So as we drive I wonder what else I don’t know. And it begins. The dreaded cascade of regret that accompanies the reality that my kids are growing too fast for me to keep up.
I’m not big about imparting my version of wisdom to my kids. Sure we’ve discussed the big ticket stuff but I largely parent with exformation.
Exformation is vital information that is removed from a story but is still imparted through associative content. These are things unsaid but conveyed anyway. It could be a nod, a disapproving glance, a metaphor, a joke. I often convey my point of view with a joke or a metaphor.
But is it working? Does my daughter understand that boys of her age have only one thing on their mind? Does she know that these friends of hers are trying to wind their own way through adolescence and that the petty jealousies that ride along on that journey can make for some dicey relations? Does she know how to be tough but sweet? Open but guarded? And how can I get this across with 3 friends in the back seat in the remaining 30 minutes of this trip? It’s too late.
We pull up to the drop area where about 12 boys come over to help unload the camp trunks. Handsome, sun tanned boys. And just like that it’s time to leave. I make my way to the car when I realize Sophie has forgotten something. I grab it and run as fast as I can back to her cabin. I burst through the door and she looks at me embarrassed and nervous. “What’s wrong?” she asks. “You forgot your hat,” I say thrusting it into her hand. “Be sure to keep this on. There are ticks everywhere.”
That should do it.