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July 2013

Hello Mudder

Patrick is at sleep-away camp

[yesterday someone asked me what that is and I had to think about it before I told them that it is a camp and kids go for a week or six days (young Patrick) or two weeks or eleventy months (young Steve) or whatever.

"Ohhhhhhh," they replied, "overnight camp" and I said, "Yes" but I thought "Really?" and I must ask: is this a regionalism? what do you call camp when it is not a day camp but a... ?]

So Patrick is at camp and I miss him like butter. Seriously. I miss his dry observations and his pseudo-grudging willingness to play with the twins for hours on end and his weird fake little accents and the comics he draws and tosses over the banister like wedding rice.

When he told me in the Spring that he was interested in going away to camp this summer my first reaction was one of incredulity. Patrick? Wants to go to summer camp? Where they have no books and lots of strangers and no computers and god only knows what to eat and shared bathrooms and snakes and every time you turn around you are being asked to compete in some sort of ball sport? Was he crazy? Then I realized that these are all my issues and Patrick and I are (surprise) different people and he might actually enjoy camp. He's independent and he's outdoors-y (albeit in a mycological way) and other kids tend to really like him a lot.

So instead of wrapping him in my skirts and saying "No no no my darling of course not" I said, "Sure."

He said, "But I rea... wait. What?" and I said, "Yeah, ok. Yes. I'll talk to your Dad but I know he loved summer camp so I'm sure he'll think it's a good idea. I'll start researching the options for you."

Flash forward four months and Patrick is at a Y camp on an island in a lake about an hour away and I am missing him terribly.

Before he left he made up the following scenario: overcrowding at a (ficticious) nearby prison will lead to an unprecedented situation in which the state of Wisconsin will requisition YMCA cabins to house a few convicted felons. Parents will be advised not to worry, however, as the space needs will be minimal and campers should not experience any inconvenience. In fact, all seven of the larcenous murderers will be housed together in Cabin Eleven with only... ah yes... here he is... with only Patrick Hippogriffs to fill the extra bunk.

After describing this situation Patrick glanced in the direction of the ceiling as if he was looking at his new seven foot tall cabinmate and give a little wave, "Hey there, buddy."

Then he looked down and lowered his voice into a menacing growl, "Hey, kid. I get the top bunk."

"Sure! Whatever you say!"

"And the bottom bunk." Pause. "You can sleep in my duffle bag."

As he got closer to leaving he embellished this story, creating names and identities, like, "Earthworm. He's irritable. Slasher. He's irritable too. Torch. They call him that because he robs banks."

"What? Why?" I said because I am the ideal straightman.

"Oh they call him Torch because after he robs the bank he goes and burns down the house of someone he didn't like in elementary school. You know, to celebrate his successful robbery."

I'm sure he'll be fine ALTHOUGH* when we dropped him off the two boys who had just left their stuff in his cabin looked distinctly thuggish to me and one of their fathers turned to the counselor and said with a guffaw, "If he gives you any trouble just belt him one." Ha ha. Ha ha ha. I almost picked Patrick up under my arm to run back to Minnesota with him and it was only Steve's loving scornful rejection of my concern that the cabin seemed a little grotty that prevented me from signing him out and taking him home again.

[Steve said, "When I was at camp we didn't have cabins; we had shelters. And those shelters just had a tarp roof and no sides."

"What about snakes?" I asked.

He gave a Paul Bunyan laugh - ho ho ho; not to be confused with Fellow Camp Parent's asinine ha ha ha - and said, "Snakes! Why we killed them. And then we ate them."

I asked him if his parents had paid actual money to have him interred with those POWs all summer but he was lost in dreamy nostalgia and never answered.]

I get to pick Patrick up tomorrow. I can't wait.

*At Steve's request I returned to my doctor today to see if we could Do Something Different about my anxiety medication. As Steve said, gently, "You're very pleasant but... if you can't write it's like there is a hole in you." I think what he was really saying is that I am like an eggplant on prozac and the kicker is... hence the capitalized ALTHOUGH and the asterix... not only do I feel like I am stuffed with fluffernutter from the clavicle up my anxiety is back up through the motherfucking roof. I had a full-on panic attack in an airport three weeks ago; first time in years. I am sleeping terribly and when I do sleep it is one stupid anxiety dream after another. I am starting to believe mostly/completely unlikely things (plane crashes, car crashes, carbon monoxide poisoning, vibrio cholerae) are not only possible but probable. And I know intellectually that Patrick is fine at camp and the other kids were fine and it was all fine fine fine but, irrationally, I am having a hard time with Patrick at camp this week.

Once upon a time I thought it was normal to feel all, god I don't even know how to describe it, all clutchy like this but my two years on Celexa (stultifying and chubbifying as they were) showed me how most people manage to sleep for eight or nine hours every night without losing children or failing Calculus or missing flights and how a parent can send her kid to camp without worrying about... well lake monsters spring to mind.

Anyway I am feeling a little whackalooney (obviously) and writing is still incredibly hard at the moment (as is socializing. and making phone calls) but I am working, I hope, towards a solution so please bear with me.

Oh! My doctor's solution by the by was to up my dose of prozac. I am extremely skeptical but I am going to give it a month and we'll see.

PS Every day I have talked about Patrick and the fact that I know he is having a great time but I miss him. Edward says, "Me too" and then names something (build a fort, build a maze, help him learn how to play Minecraft) that he wants Patrick to do for him upon his return.

The first time I said it Caroline looked thoughtful and then said, "Hmmmm, no. Not me. I don't miss him at all. It's like... hey do you remember that cat we used to have?"

Edward and I said, more or less in unison, "Darwin?"

Caroline said, "Yes! That was his name. Darwin. It's like him. I never think of him anymore."

She's so... warm.

PPS Only vaguely related:

Before attending sleep-away (aka overnight. I guess. really?) camp Patrick spent a week at a local YMCA day camp. One day he came home wearing an entirely maple adorned, uh, crown


and announced, "I am lord of the Aceraceae! For too long have the Pankaykay and the Vaffel wallowed in the syrup of my people! I! SHALL! HAVE! VENGENCE!"

The Pankaykay. Say it aloud. He kills me. Is it any wonder I miss him?