July 20: Ready for Camp and Hanging the Dog

My little boy, who are you? This morning you gathered your friends and while you stood in your PJs — for it was still only 7:30 — you looked up at me and said “Go to camp? Ready for camp?” It was all I could do not to smother you in kisses. Your words shoot from your mouth with an uncommon ease these days, could I be imagining it?

You run into my arms at the end of your camp day and grin. You are ready to go and say “Sam?” because you know we will walk down the hall and get him next. I watch your eyes dance when you spot him and he spots you. You jump up and down until he nears and throws his arms around you. It makes me smile because it stills you, even if just for a moment.

They tell me how the two of you pass each other in the hall or outside in the playground and how Sam will stop in his tracks and yell, “That’s my brother!” and then how you smile with delight. How I want this for you, not just this summer, but all the time. Why can’t we have this all the time?

Today we arrive home and after we’re barely inside the door, you say, “John’s bed? Okay…let’s go.” You are impatient as you pull me towards the stairs. Your other hand clutches an art project — the paper dog you made today. I’m not sure what we’re doing, but I follow, curious to see what you have in mind.

Imagine my surprise when you go directly to the head of your bed where I have hung your artwork over the past year. You hold up the dog — the one you made today with scissors and fingerprints for dots, the one they told me you loved making — and say “Hang dog?”

The pieces I’ve hung over your bed are the most colorful ones that came home last year, the ones that made me smile and I hoped made you smile too. I pulled them from your backpack, remnants of a day I did not get to witness, and feared you had little to do with their creation. You’ve never noticed them hanging there — or at least that’s what I thought.

My little boy, who are you? I see you opening up before my eyes and I’m humbled by the sight.

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