We dropped the twins off at camp today, where they'll stay until next Saturday. This will be the first time they've been on their own, away from some kind of family oversight.
It's a necessary, and important, step for them. It gives them a chance to try out, for real, all the tools we've been trying to teach them. It's a chance to explore themselves, and to find their strengths and weaknesses. Of course, all of this is completely lost on them, but Carina and I recognize the importance of it all.
We're excited and terrified at the same time. We're excited that the kids are moving into adolescence, and that their world is slowly beginning to expand beyond the bounds of home and the schoolyard playground. We're excited that our girls have demonstrated to us that they're ready for this challenge, and that we can trust them to be on their own for a week. We're terrified, of course, that maybe we haven't prepared them in as many ways as possible, and that this will prove to be more of a traumatic experience for one (or both) of them then it is a positive one.
The kids are really their own people now; and it's exciting to see all of the ways that manifests in their lives. For example, Tyler almost never wears matched socks. If we were slightly more diligent about folding laundry and putting it away, this might not be the case. But as it is, we slack on laundry, and the clean clothes sit in the laundry hamper for longer than they should. The kids (and sometimes the parents) rustle through these clean clothes looking for stuff to wear. Tyler usually picks out the first two socks she finds, completely unconcerned with whether they match one another, or indeed match any of the colors she's chosen to wear that day.
I have always admired her for this. She's not (totally) hung up on the way she looks, or any sense of fashion. She doesn't spend much time at all picking out her clothes, or making sure things look just right; which is in stark contrast to her sister, who does fall for the trappings of style much more often. I am greatly relieved that my kids aren't (yet) such social animals that something like matched socks is a big deal for them, lest their friends think them weird or something. (I should point out, I suppose, that I'm extremely fussy about my own socks, and hate wearing mis-matched socks. I don't know why I am this way.)
When I picked up the kids from day camp earlier this week, Tyler informed me that some of the kids made fun of her for not having matched socks. This was the first time -- to my knowledge -- that she received any grief for this; and it was the first time that we had a chance to speak about it. I hunkered down, placed my hand on her shoulder, and looked into her teary eyes. "Tyler, I like the fact that you don't wear matched socks. You're your own person, and to you socks aren't important. I think that's awesome." A small smile slowly spread across her face. "There are so many more important things than socks, Tyler. Really, what does it matter if you wear different socks? Does it make you a better friend to wear the same color socks? Does it make you smarter? Does it do anything at all?" Tyler slowly shook her head. "That's right, kiddo. Socks aren't a very important part of our lives. You wear what you want to wear, and you be confident that you're a good person, and a good friend."
I hope that she took the message to heart. I hope that she gained some small amount of self-confidence from my words. I hope that she can brush aside any teasings she might get for her mis-matched socks while at camp next week. I hope they both can face the social adversity that is almost certain to occur, and that they can keep their heads up, proud of who they are.
Before today, Carina and I were both more than a little trepidatious about what this week would hold. But after seeing the camp, helping prepare their bunks in the cabins, and meeting their counselors, we're both greatly relieved. We're confident that the kids will have a good time, and we're already looking forward to hearing the tales they'll have to tell.