Hello Camp, Good-Bye Mom

“You have no idea how much I’ll miss you,” says a little voice to my left.

We are in a cab headed up Eight Avenue to catch a train out of Penn Station for New Haven, where we will hop a ride to the Hole In The Wall Gang camp. It is a hot sticky morning and the cab windows are wide open.  The horns, whistles and voices blasting through make conversation difficult, but anxious about missing our train I’m intent on speaking above the noise and directing the cabbie.

“What did you say?” the cabbie asks mistaking the voice as mine.

“Keep driving. We have an 8:30 train to catch,” I holler back.

I have to do a double take. Is this the same kid who screamed, “I hate you” and “You’re ruining my life” less than 24 hours ago?

A byproduct of the single mother/only child relationship is that Savannah and I are enmeshed as they come and depending on the day can be archenemies or BFFs.  We’re that rare couple who can laugh and argue simultaneously. Yet, underneath the layers of power struggles, pain and heartache is rare, unexplainable love.

Once we arrive at camp, the “miss you” comment is pushed aside as Savannah becomes engrossed with the staffers assigned to entertain campers at check-in. Watching her try to spin a Frisbee on a stick triggers memories of the six months I planned and prayed to get her into camp and I become misty eye.  (See Hole In The Wall Gang)

“Oh, don’t worry. She’s in good hands,” the counselor standing nearby assures me. She is a fresh-scrubbed cheerleader type right off the pages of Seventeen. With a camper to staff ratio of 3 to 1, I have no doubt.

We’re last to check-in Savannah’s cabin, classic cowboy digs trimmed in purple. The good news is Savannah gets her desired top bunk; however, the anxiety I had in the cab has me in a chokehold.

“I got a bus to catch,” I say within minutes of setting down the suitcase. “Come say good-bye to mom.”

She is hesitant and I realize I pale in comparison to campfires, horses and a rock climbing. But, when I turn to jump in the waiting car out comes the small voice.

“Can you do angel pie?”

Years ago we created a rhyme about her dolls Daisy and Fuzzy and it’s our bedtime ritual to say it while performing hand motions. For a split second she retreats from being the spunky camper who raced to get the top bunk and back to the 9-year-old who likes her own bed.

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