The backspace key was used extensively as I tried to type short notes to my daughters while they were at camp.
“I hate when you go out and do your own thing. I miss you so much. Could you not stay here? “
“I miss playing basketball in the aisle, even though you’re so much better than me.”
“We are not a complete family when you are gone.”
“The Cubs stank for an 11-game losing streak, and I wish you were there to help me understand why they stink.”
“I never want to let you leave our house for more than eight hours straight again.”
Backspace, backspace, backspace.
The parish camp where our 12 and 13 year old daughters participated this summer allows you to send notes to your children. They are printed and delivered to their cabins between all the fun outdoor activities, learning silly and witty songs, and the moments they share about how important faith is to them.
Whenever I thought of letters and camps, I thought of the old Allan Sherman song from 1963, “Camp Granada.It’s the one that starts with “Hello, Muddah, hello Faddah” and all the horrible things about camp… until it stops raining and becomes fun.
The main difference is that the boy writes the letters, not the parents. In our situation, they don’t write to us first, and we really have no idea how they enjoy the camp, other than seeing a few smiley photos on an app and knowing that they liked it a lot when they have been gone a few years since.
You’d think that a guy who’s written a 550-word column every week since March 2011 could handle a short note to his daughters. This is where that dreaded throwback touch has been my nemesis, however.
I have a lot of thoughts on how rotten my life is when they’re not around. I don’t want to burden them with my codependency. It’s not their fault that I don’t know what to do when I’m leading them to their events. There is no reason for them to know that I watch old episodes of MASH POTATOES when they are not there.
No, I want them to have a healthy, normal time to grow up and fend for themselves. They have to go to places where they don’t know many people and make friends at the camp. They need to try different things under the supervision of people who claim to be responsible, even if they get a little too friendly when you drop your kids in the middle of nowhere.
At the same time, I wanted them to understand that we felt their absence. We could joke about the way they hide in their bedroom or play on electronic devices, but every girl provides a trait in our house that is noticeable when they are gone.
Instead of focusing on how their departure hurts me, I tried to stay positive about what I was hoping they would hear at camp. I made sure they knew how much we loved them, missed them and wanted the best for them.
As for the other stuff that goes through my mind while they’re gone? I guess it’s between you, me and the backspace key on my keyboard.