It's official: The kids are sick of camp. I promised them what I know is true. They only have two more weeks of camp left, and then they're home with me for a week before they go back to school. Groans. Sighs. I feel for them. In their words, they wish they could Just Stay Home and Play All Day.
It's hard for me not to feel a little guilty that they can't--because once upon a time, I WAS home with them full-time, and life really was a playground. But things have changed, and really they've changed for the better in most respects. And the truth is that when the kids are home for more than two days in a row, they're bouncing off the walls.
This morning was tough, though. They both slept late and were really annoyed when they realized they wouldn't have enough time to play with their toys before hustling off to camp for the day. Lots of protests ensued. But once I dropped them off, they were running to meet their friends and jumping right into games. As we said goodbye, I took them aside for a minute to remind them:
"Are you guys happy to see all your friends at camp?"
"Yes!" Wiggling. Jumping. Eager to get back to playing.
"Okay, so tomorrow morning if you guys complain you don't want to go to camp, I'm going to remind you how HAPPY you are when you get here and start playing."
"And that means I don't want to hear any complaining."
I messed up their hair, kissed and hugged them goodbye. As I walked away and neared the door, I was suddenly jumped on from behind and nearly knocked down [note: I'm five feet tall. Sean is quickly gaining on me.]. I turned around and the two of them tackled me with hugs and kisses before abruptly running back to their friends yelling "BYE, MOM!" without looking back.
Usually it's just the anticipation of things and not the actual experience of them that makes us so anxious and upset. I know the boys would prefer to stay home; who wouldn't? I also know that they have a lot going on in their little minds: Mommy is remarrying (it makes it easier that they love Ian so much, and Ian is so wonderful with them. But it's still a Big Deal.); we are (hopefully) moving; they miss their friends from school; and they spend half the weekend with their father. And while they have a great time with him, they are still like any kids: They want to be home with their toys.
I give my boys so much credit. They've weathered a lot of change the last three years. They are troopers. They are also mischievous jokers who like to play pranks on people, but they are still considered the "best listeners" in their classes, both at school and at camp. They aren't afraid to talk to me about the Big Things that bother them--whether it's me or friends or school--and I hope that remains constant. They love their father. They love Ian. And do their best to understand and accept that Mom and Dad get along really well--just not well enough to be married.
The fact that my ex and I do get along well causes some confusion for them, no doubt. They have to believe we are telling the truth that we didn't get along well AT ALL during the last few years of our marriage, and although we tried very hard to make it work, it didn't work. Sean remembers some of the worst of it; Nolan doesn't even have memories of living in the same house as his father. Now all they see is that we do get along, and this causes questions: Why couldn't you just stay together if you get along now?
A: We get along now because we aren't together.
This frustrates them sometimes. And then, following that logic, Sean has asked,
"Well, what about you and Ian? Are you going to get along when you're married?"
I'm not sure he believed me. He was silent. He's never silent.
"Sean, I am marrying Ian because I know it will work. I don't want to be divorced again, and I don't want you to go through another divorce. So please trust me that I am doing this because it will work. I know it will."
I'm still not sure he believed me. I can't blame him. He has a lot riding on it: He loves Ian. Nolan loves Ian. My ex gets along well with Ian. And at home, the kids, Ian and I are really happy together. Sean already lost his dad on a regular basis; he couldn't go through losing Ian, too. (Neither could I.)
But back to camp.
There are only two weeks left of camp; only three weeks left of summer until Labor Day. Before long the kids will be trick-or-treating around the Cove and making handprint turkeys at school. We don't question the order of the seasons; we have faith that fall comes after summer, that winter comes after fall. In the same way, I have faith that what comes next for all of us as a family is what it should be. And it will work. Without a doubt. I don't think I've been more certain of anything in my life except the love I have for my children.