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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's In the Bag

Biggest Brother left yesterday morning for a 5 day camp out with his class from Our Sweet School. The night before found us packing fleeces and wellies and all sorts of flashlights (torches) and little goodies I'd found for him last week. Biggest Brother is still so much the same little boy who was enchanted with the trinkets and hooks and lanyards he collected as a toddler in his "treasure box."  So I stuffed a bag with carabiners, hooks, pens, papers, and even painters tape, knowing he'd find a use for it all. And because he's the Mister's, he wanted to pack a map so he could follow along on the bus route! He got lovely notes from family and friends and a fantastic call from his Gigi and two uncles (one of whom is a big camper so Biggest Brother sought his counsel on what to pack. Bandanas, of course!).

Thank goodness the Mister took him so the other smalls and I didn't have to get out terribly early on a Monday morning. As it was, Baby Sister has just discovered the reality of school days and has been tearful for a few mornings of late.

I get that, Baby Sister. I've dropped blue 3 year olds at schools before. I am braver now when I know the novelty of the first few days has worn off, and the reality of a new schedule has set in. Sorry, though that I've genetically ensured you're just plain sentimental, too. We all feel a bit that way to be honest, Baby Sister. We do. We're all so happy to be back with friends at Our Sweet School, but we also miss pajama mornings with Colt Seevers. We're just keeping stiff upper lips on your account.  That is until this morning, when Big Sister caught your sadness and started to cry herself.

I didn't even get to kiss Big Brother goodbye this morning as my legs were nailed down by two sad little girls. One clinging to each leg. In the entrance to the courtyard. Our very dear Head Teacher lovingly took Big Sister to her class while I peeled Baby Sister off me and delivered her to her room. Later, after a warm embrace and prescribing a "strong coffee" for me, the Head Teacher said she suspects the girls (and Big Brother, too) are missing Biggest Brother. And she was so right and so kind that you know what I did, right? I started to cry.

Last night, the flat-bound smalls all went to bed (en masse in the bunk beds) with glow in the dark stickers as a little distraction.  Who says the campers will have all the fun this week?  I know they miss their buddy, so I'm determined this will be a fun time for the kids at home. Even if their mornings are a little moist, the evenings will be exciting.

Biggest Brother is such a lovely little boy. He left his siblings notes to find scavenger-hunt style. They were addressed separately and sweetly and all had a variation on a theme: "I'll miss you and will be back soon. Meanwhile, help Mom so you can get to school sensibly!"  I couldn't have said it better myself!  Maybe even better than the notes was how he addressed their envelopes: "To my ladybug," "To my little princess," and "To my best friend." No wonder they were all teary!

Our favorite camper went with lots of well wishes tucked into a big envelope to open when they arrived and a few surprises to discover, too. Everything was in an LL Bean duffel bag slung over his tiny shoulder. That's the very duffel I overloaded while awaiting Big Brother's arrival. Like his brother, he was 5 days late so I had extra time to pack.  The Mister swears the receptionist calling out "Good luck" to us wasn't so much wishing me well on delivering a giant baby, but rather, cheering for the Mister hoisting that absurdly overloaded bag through Fairfax Hospital.

We've already read a darling daily report written on a board at school that Biggest Brother and his friends in Year 6 learned to make their camp beds, went on hikes, and saw a few animals yesterday.  Apparently the boys slept better than the very chatty girls. Making beds, long walks, and chatty girls?  Biggest Brother must feel quite at home.

The Mister wonders what we'll all do when Biggest Brother is off to college. It would be a huge blessing to experience that one day. My plan is to send massive care packages and take comfort that when that day comes, his devoted siblings won't be 3, 5, and 8. That will either make Big Brother flying the nest much better, or much worse, but it won't be just the same as the angst they feel this week.  These are growing pains.

These days are another example of a really good school teaching so much more than academics. Part of why we send our children to school is to try new things, stretch themselves, and to learn to fly alone a bit. And fly with new people. We're getting that lesson in spades this week and our nest will be all the better for it.

Thanks for thinking of and praying for Biggest Brother, his wonderful buddies and dear teachers, too. Since his drum kit doesn't travel so easily, he asked to bring his guitar. So when you picture him, think of him plucking away and belting out a soft tune in front of the campfire surrounded by his lovely friends.  These are the days he'll remember. We're cheering for him and know you are, too. Thanks so much for that!

And one day I'm going to do a devotional about all the places our bags have been. The backpack the Mister bought before our European trip - before we were even engaged*, the briefcase I bought for my first business trip that is now part of their dress up box, and oh the places we've gone with LL Bean's various duffel bags.

It's in the bag.

*had I thought 14 years later we'd live in London with 4 children, I surely would have paid lots more attention to everything. And not just the Walkers shortbread.

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