This morning we dropped our son off at the summer camp where he will be on staff this year. It is actually the second year he has worked there. For 8 weeks we will only see him on Saturday nights when he comes home to eat a real meal, revisit his computer, wash his laundry and sleep in his bed. Then Sunday morning its back to camp again.
It is just another reminder that here in the summer between the 11th and 12th grade he is already halfway out the family door. When fall arrives and the chaos of his Senior year starts time will begin to race by.
Parenting is made of such milestones of course. We all have them, certain moments that reminded us that children grow and mature (at least we hope they mature) change interests frequently, and then one day surprise you that they are nearly adults.
With my son it really began last summer when he took those first steps into the working world, and into his independent life away from us. Now he was earning money from someone other than a relative, and had the W-2 form and the direct deposit to prove it. And just as when we sent him into kindergarten a preschooler and saw him come out that afternoon a grade school student, he came home from camp a near adult.
This last year has been crowded with such milestones. He started seriously looking at colleges and majors. Catalogs began to show up in the mail, along with the inevitable recruiting materials from the armed forces. He took his first AP class to start obtaining some college credit. He took his ACT tests. He took a senior girl to the prom. He finished another year of baseball and got his letterman award again. Yesterday a flyer came in the mail for senior pictures. Small things many of them. but each another tick on the clock.
The great moments are when they suddenly surprise you with their maturity. When you find out they did an unexpectedly mature or responsible thing, when a teacher or other adult tells you what a fine child you raised, when they say something profound out of the blue, you get a warm feeling that just maybe you are doing something right.
Before we know it this year will be over, and we will be packing him not for summer camp but for college. And after that no matter how often he comes home, it will be on his terms as the grown adult he has become. And hopefully we will always look at him and get that warm feeling that we did it right.
Meanwhile, the same fall that he will leave for college his little sister will start high school and the clock will start running again.