When you first see it, the whole thing looks like some giant playground structure, with a net.
A net? you wonder to yourself. But then you get closer, and you realize: that ladder goes all the freakin' way up. Up. And more up. Holy crap: it's time for camp.
This time, I have really gone just too far, I told the SIL. This cannot be right. How on earth did we talk the hematologists into this? She grins at me, and tells me that the hematologists and I are both just doing our jobs. They defend their boundaries, and I push them.
And yet. It is, after all, circus camp. With trapezes. That was one hell of a push.
I'm just not sure that this is going to work. I have spent the previous week talking to the wall, the air (okay, myself) and the hematologists. I have not spent the previous week looking over the camp itself, training the staff and discussing this with the on-site nurse. Can we do all of this on the first day of camp? Effectively? For something that's frankly a little bit of a crazy idea? The night before, I have wierd stress dreams about flying and trying to find nets to land on.
But we go, and I talk hemophilia and allergies with a very nervous looking blond guy with muscles, and an extremely calm woman (also with muscles, I note, and consider a gym membership for the nth time. Nah). I hope the calm woman will be assigned to the Eldest's group. She is not.
As I am leaving, the Eldest and the blond guy climb onto a folding table and sit companiably, watching the kids do tricks. They look comfortable - until the table collapses under them, dumping them both on their butts on the floor. Bag on my shoulder, I wait - this is a field test for my newly trained deputy, and I want to see how Mister Nervous handles it. There's a long pause, then I guess that's why they call them folding tables, the blond guy says, ruefully. The Eldest gives him a well, duh look. I grin and walk out the door. As twitchy-nervous as the staffer looks, he's obviously got a handle on how to manage an incident. Fine.
Later, the Eldest looks at the trapeze and refuses to go near it - as predicted. He learns about diablos and juggling, and consents to swing on the smaller trapeze (7-8 feet off the ground). He swings for perhaps 5 seconds. Tomorrow, I'm going to try that again! he tells us.
That night, he has a nosebleed. Same side of the nose as before, and the Man panics. I am asleep, and wake up just long enough to delegate panicking to my beloved spouse. More stress dreams: now I am hunting for pharmacies.
I stop off at camp to dose the kid with Amicar, and find him swinging his legs in the JCC pool. You should really teach me to swim, Mum, he says sternly. I agree, and again reconsider our lack of membership at someplace like this. I go home and look at the pricetag on membership and remember why we don't do that. Yeeouch.
I pick the kid up from school, and he regales me with tales of hats, lost underwear and a faux boxing match. Ah. So, kid, what about flying? You were going to try it again today, right? He looks at me, defensively. I forgot.
Am I going to spend time being preemptively sad that the Eldest might just miss this opportunity? Hell, it's his opportunity to miss, and mine to provide it for him. Silly woman. But going to be a little sad anyway, for my poor scared Eldest and the silly adults (me included) who taught him his fears. Some of them, anyway.
okay, most of them.
I drive out to camp, sitting on myself. I will keep my mouth shut, I will keep my mouth shut, I will keep my mouth shut. We wend our way from the parking lot to the trapeze setup. Have a wonderful day, hon, I tell him. And don't - have - fun! It's the ritual goodbye for my kids, and the standing joke: moms are in charge of squelching all fun and joy. The Eldest hugged me back, and ran off to join his friend.
By noon, the Toddles and I were back with the Eldest's next dose of Amicar. Words leaked past my mouth, so, did you fly today? The kid looked at me, his eyes shining. THREE times! on the little swing! That night, he positively glowed during dinner. I went on the little swing FOUR times, Dad, he told the Man. I only stopped because the counsellor made me.
(This I knew - the counsellor, noting the Eldest's glow, apologized to me. He had to supervise other children when the Eldest was ready to fly a fifth time on the little trapeze, and felt terrible about letting the kid - literally - down.)
Tomorrow, he vowed, I'm going again. And this time on the big swing, too.
That night, he has another nosebleed. I consider it a cosmic sign of balance, or possibly a reminder: he can fly, but he's still bound.
I'm not going to camp, he told me. Stop driving me to camp. I quit camp. Why are you still driving me to camp? Hands firmly on the steering wheel, I nodded. That's fine, I told him. But you have to tell the counsellors in person that you are quitting. And you need to give me a good reason for why you want to quit. The Eldest argued the entire way there, and stomped over to the trapeze set. Nobody was there.
They were all inside, rehearsing for tomorrow's big show. The juggling act, the acrobatic act (I want to climb that rope in the show! he told me. It's just like that one on the playground), the clowning and the magic act. Hey, kid, one of the counsellors called, do you want to climb inside the box? The Eldest shook his head, vehemently - and settled down to watch. Fascinated, he said, I think I like watching them better than I like doing these things. And so he watched. After a while, he waved distractedly as I left, and then looked up calmly when I returned, Amicar in hand.
How's it going? I asked. He nodded thoughtfully. It's okay, he said. I don't want to do things, but I do have a couple of jobs. A counsellor drew me aside to apologize: the kid just wasn't going to be the star of the show. It's okay, I told him. All I want is for him to have a chance to try. Quietly, I was a little bit, secretly sorry not to have the Disney-esque spectacle ending, with the challenged hero rising triumphant.
But hey, this is real life, right? Not a movie. And so, that night: you know that I'm quitting camp now. I am NOT going back tomorrow.
coming soon......Day Five: the boy, the stage and the swing