The Too-Long Goodbyes

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Maybe it is heartless, but I never understood the whole “waving as the bus leaves for sleep away camp” thing. You knew they are leaving. You can’t really see them through the bus windows. But, you continue to stand there, staring at the tinted windows, waving at random children whom you’ve convinced yourself belong to you.

Once the kids get on the bus, they don’t want to see us. They have waited ten months to jump on that bus and escape their daily grind. I even asked my children if they are waving back. They are not. They have said their goodbyes. They are either happily involved with their friends or teary and avoiding the masses waving at them.

And yet, we continue to wave.

Sometimes I think it is guilt that encourages us to stand, endlessly, in the smoky heat of the busses as we watch them pull away. They are half a mile away, and we are still waving, hoping that they have x-ray vision and can see how much we will miss them. Because if we wave enough, and they know that we will miss them, we can relax and enjoy our summer while they live it up at camp.

We send them to camp for four to eight weeks. We will not be available to cater to their every whim and whine. They do not have to check with us before they go swimming, build a rocket, or have a soda. We do not know what they are eating for every meal, and we cannot tell them to eat their veggies. And, let’s face it, other than repeatedly refreshing the pictures to make sure that our little ones are alive and hopefully happy in their summer homes, we barely communicate with them throughout their time at camp.

But we stand by the busses and wave goodbye for a long, long time.

This year, my husband drove my boys and one of their closest friends upstate for their seven-week escape. No long goodbyes or lingering. We laughingly waved for two seconds as they flew out of the driveway. They were on their way to their happy place, and we did not feel remotely guilty enough to continue waving as they sped down the street.

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