We did it. We dropped them off. We’d heard about this concept for years from friends who are braver than we are. Grandparent camp. It seemed like an amazing and far in the distance possibility. That was last year.
This spring Seth’s dad called and pitched the idea of having the kids come to Portland for a week in the summer.
“This summer?” I said. “Like in a few months?”
I couldn’t imagine how this would work. Who would comb their hair, make them eat their breakfast? Who would tell them to stop fighting, to be kind to sister? How would they handle being away from us at bedtime? What if they didn’t sleep, cried all day, worried that we’d abandoned them? How could they possible survive without us, without me?
While all of these questions were running through my head Seth chimed in, “I think they’d have fun.”
Fun? While I’m nine hours away? How? Tell me exactly how this would work?
As summer approached and we did the gymnastics of calendars, childcare shares and schedules, Portland resurfaced in conversations. I took a deep breath and asked the kids what they thought thinking they would baulk, whine and think this was a terrible idea. Turns out I was the only one baulking. While my children can’t actually do backflips in reality, their reactions to a week with the grandparents at the grandparents’ house suggested this skill was just around the corner. Eliza and Lucille literally jumped up and down.
“We get to go see Babu and Helen!” Lucille squealed. “Without you?” Jump. Jump. Jump.
Eliza, our more reticent child (wonder who she takes after?) asked about bedtime. “Will they put us to bed?”
“Yes,” I said. “Every night. They’ll read you books just like we do.”
“Could we go kayaking?” she said.
“Yes, babe. Babu has big plans.”
With that she was convinced. Lucille, our youngest, who has a penchant for television and shopping, needed no convincing at all. She saw nothing but Netflix and Target in her future week away from home and she was more than ready to scoot me out the door and embrace it with unending joy, which is pretty much what she did when we dropped her and her sister off in Portland last weekend.
With no small amount of anxiety, we prepared to leave. I expected tears, long hugs and an even longer goodbye. On this front I was sorely disappointed. Each girl hugged us twice and waved for about three seconds as we pulled out of the driveway. We stopped in the road to wave some more but they had turned their backs to us and were already focused on the kayak trip for the day.
“You think they’ll be okay?” I said.
“Um, I think they’ll be just fine,” Seth said as we crept out onto the main road.
Seth and I drove home to Montana listening to music, talking to each other and, at times, saying nothing at all. I didn’t have to referee sibling bickering or answer 492 times when, exactly, we’d be anywhere.
This morning we awoke to an eerily quiet house and neither of us quite knew what to make of a morning routine that involved a shower, coffee and, well, that was it. So far we’ve gotten videos from their day at the lake and I’m pretty interested in talking to them later but I might have one more cup of coffee, one more quiet hour first.