Monday, August 12, 2013

The Long Goodbye

Greetings WYMOP fans!

Now I know some of you looked at the title of today's post and thought to yourselves 'Oh, crap, it's another sad story about his grandmother.'

Well you would be wrong. This week we have another Handsome Tale, and it's one that made me laugh in the end. Ready?

Okay. Here's the story:

This is not a real photo of Handsome

Earlier this Summer Handsome went off to Boy Scout camp. It was his first real time away from home without either of his parents around, and it was going to be for an entire week. We went to the parent/scout meetings and heard all about what they would be doing for the week: the activities, the projects, the games.

The warnings.

Neither is this.

 We were warned repeatedly, since we were the parents of a first-time camper, that being separated from his parents might be difficult for him. We were told time and again that home-sickness had been a problem for many campers in the past, especially first-timers, that just might apply for our Handsome. They told us that when mid-week came, and ‘visiting day’ rolled around (Wednesday), that we might want to skip it —  in fact, they advised us strongly to do just that —  just in case our handsome was in the throes of a terrible longing to come back to be with his family, his home, and his stuff.

We took it to heart. In the days leading up to Scout Camp week there was some serious discussion between his mother and me as to whether we would be attending visiting day at all. It was decided (in other words, I was told in no uncertain terms, but I honestly expected as much) that his mother would be visiting him while I would not (I had to work anyway). Now the only thing to worry about, really, was the goodbye.

We would both be there to drop him off, you see, and I usually get a hug goodbye and kiss him either on the cheek or the top of the head whenever I leave. This time, though, he was going to be there at camp with all his scouting friends. Would a hug from his old man be his undoing? Would there be a welling of tears, on either side, something for the other boys to use as fodder for the teasing that always goes on when you get a group of boys together for any length of time, whether those ‘boys’ are fourteen, forty, or old enough to have serous discussions comparing  the pros and cons of canes vs. walkers?

I didn’t know. What I did know, sure as shootin’ (you know, I’ve never used that phrase in real life, just in writing), was that on the big day I was goin to get my hug. At least. And damn the consequences.

Well, the big day came. We made the 90 minute drive down south to the camp to drop him
off with the dozens of other Scouts that would be staying there that week. We took the tour of the place, then got to go to the camp site his troop had chosen to help him set up what would be his home for the next six nights. I helped him put the mosquito netting up around his cot. He and his tent-mate draped a tarp over the entire tent in an effort to actually rain-proof the WWII surplus (I **** you not) temporary structure, in case of inclement weather. Handsome changed into his Class A uniform in preparation for chow.

The camp was set up.

There was nothing more to do.

It was time.

Nope yet again!
Steeling myself against the potential embarrassing tears, hardening my heart against the possibility that I’d have to peel a sobbing ten-year-old from me as he clung, starfish-like to my waist, fighting not to be left behind, I turned to see him strolling across the camp site with two of his friends.

“It’s time for us to go, Kiddo,” I said, spreading my arms just a little, prepared to catch his 140 lbs as it hurtled into my embrace.

“See ya,” he said without breaking stride, flipping a casual wave over his shoulder. He hadn’t even turned around.

“You might want to go say goodbye,” said one of the older, more experienced scouts, as he untied the flaps of his own tent, preparing to change into his Class A uniform as well. “They’re your parents. You’re gonna miss them. Trust me.”

“I’m good,” said Handsome as he strode out of camp toward the dining hall. I turned to Handsome’s mother, my mouth hanging open.

“The son of a bitch pre-empted me!”

We see them growing every day,
They do it right before our eyes,
But still, the fact that they have grown
Can often take us by surprise.

Talk to you later!

And just to continue the scouting theme for the week, here's a quick little commercial that amused me. It's not the Boy Scouts, and I don't understand a word that they say, but really... do you have to?

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