Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Camp Part One--Connecting with my Kid

Last weekend I went to camp.  I signed up was signed up by my pal Steph.  She excitedly wrote both our names down to be chaperones at our kids' church retreat.  It sounded like a great idea, but the closer it got, the more apprehensive I felt.

It's no secret that my oldest child, my most serious and thoughtful 10-year-old son, Peyton has started to pull away.  Not in any abnormal dark and twisty way.  In the I am one year away from middle school way.  My jokes are embarrassing.  He leaves the room when we start to dance in the kitchen.  He rolls his eyes just a little, calls me "mom" instead of "mommy" and is almost as tall as me (which isn't too tall, but still a little crazy for me).  

For years I've been telling sarcastic jokes to my imaginary friend.  You know like when the little kids tell me they are not going to brush their teeth ever again and they've decided to wear socks on their hands forever; I laugh a little and say "okay, great, see how that works out for you" under my breath.  Nothing too harmful or scary.  But now when I make those comments I hear laughter.  The littler kids still run away unaware that I might be making fun of them a little and excited about their brilliant idea to wear socks on their hands, but Peyton gets it.  Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.  

Even though I do get a laugh when I am making fun of his brothers and sisters, he rarely laughs at anything else I do. And I get it, I shouldn't be making fun of anyone to bond with him.

And to be honest, I don't need him to think I'm funny or cool.  I need him to know he can talk to me, trust me.  We need to stay connected, because I know it will not get easier during the teen years.  And quite frankly, I can't get much cooler.

So, when Peyton, my shy, not really happy about trying new things son wanted to go to the church retreat and didn't mind that I would be chaperoning, I jumped at the chance.  Okay, maybe I didn't jump, but I felt hopeful.

I'm not a girl who gets really psyched about new things either, wonder where my poor son gets it. I like sleeping in my own bed, with my sound machine and waking up and to have a cup of coffee in the same cup every morning.  So as the day got closer I asked Peyton, "Are you sure you want to go to camp?  And you are okay with me going?"  He did and he was, so I packed.

It turned out to be the perfect scenario- we were together, but not too together.  You see, I could help out and be around, but I wasn't all up in his business.  He slept on the boys' side of the cabin with the dad chaperones and I got a swanky (I use this term lightly) middle room where I could plug in my sound machine (diva behavior alert).  

I got to to watch my quiet son have fun, sing songs, tell jokes, play catch, go on nature walks and more with his friends.  And he saw me devoting my time to his friends and him, helping to make the trip fun and meaningful for his friends and him. 
It just happened to be the snowiest and coldest weekends we've had here this winter. 

The highlight of the retreat was at the campfire when my very own son requested that I sing "Sama Kama Wacky Brown" (An old Brothers Four song my parents used to sing when I was little, that I now sing to my children; but couldn't find on YouTube to share with you, but trust me it's fabulous(-ly silly).) to the group.  And you better believe I brought the house down with dance moves and vocal range (if I do say so myself).  

Peyton was watching with a smile, not the "god mom, you are so dumb" smile.  It was a "you are a goof ball, but I'm glad you're here mom" smile.  I might be wrong about it, but I don't think so.

So very glad I went on the retreat even though I didn't sleep much (Read more about that in the next installment Camp Part Two coming tomorrow. Yup, a teaser!) and didn't have my normal coffee cup.  I connected with my kid and that feels great.

On a totally different note...I think you should subscribe to my YouTube Channel, Jumping W/My Fingers Crossed, click here to ch-ch-check it out.  There's a bunch of fun videos I've featured here on the blog.

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