I dropped my son off at his second day of day camp earlier this week on a college campus. He’s so excited. It’s a great program that introduces kids to different types of engineering. And the director had no problem including a kid with autism.
But as he got out of the car, saying, “See ya” and walked towards the building, I sat in the van watching him go. All kinds of worry started to whisper to my heart. Would he remember the right building? The right class room? Would he make any effort to chat with his fellow campers? Would they be nice to him?
Suddenly a line from a Harry Potter book sprang to mind and I couldn’t help but laugh. One of the characters, Hagrid (a giant of a man), has to let go of a baby dragon he’s hatched. He feels all maternal towards it and doesn’t want to send it off to live with other dragons. Through big tears he blurts out, “But what if the other dragons are mean to him?”
That sentence sums up such a maternal thought: what if the other kids aren’t nice to our kid? I thought I’d outgrow this kind of thought as they got bigger. Nope. Here I was watching my 6’1”, 17-year-old son (he’s not such a little one anymore) walk off to a camp with other high schoolers and I still worry about it. I’m praying about it for my almost-19-year-old son as he prepares to head to college in FOUR weeks. (Heaven help me, I just can’t even….)
A friend this week struggled with these mama feelings as she dropped her youngest off for the first time at church camp. I dropped my youngest off at the same camp. She turned to me with a smile and asked why I hadn’t left yet. Ha! My friend’s son was filled with anxiety. It wasn’t Lucy’s first time but it was for my friend’s boy. That made a lot of difference to each of them.
But even with my little one’s confident goodbye, I still hesitated a bit as I drove away. Will she have fun? Will she make friends?
So if you are a mama wrestling with worry as you drop a kid off someplace, you aren’t crazy and you aren’t alone. If you are struggling or feeling silly because of these normal maternal fears, remember that they are the result of being a caring mama. Don’t turn the vehicle around and go get them, but remember: You can do this. They can do this.
Whether they are bounding away with barely a good-bye or clinging to your leg with every ounce of strength they’ve got, this could be so good for them. Whether they are nine or nineteen, these nagging thoughts still come up. Whether you signed them up for enrichment and fun or whether this is necessity because you have to be someplace else, no guilt!
We want our kids to do well socially. We want them to make friends, build connections, and find community. We want them to learn to have fun and go on adventures without us. But our hearts also hope and pray and long for them to find kindred spirits along the way. We are communal creatures who were never meant to do life alone. We want our kids to succeed at figuring that stuff out. Part of how we let them learn these skills is dropping them off somewhere without us.
Here’s to cheering each other on as we struggle to help our little dragons grow up. Here’s to handing our girlfriends tissues when they need to take a moment wrestling with letting go. Here’s to praying the other dragons are nice to our kids and our kids are nice to them. Here’s to our kids greeting us after their adventure with amazing stories of what they experienced and who they met. And here’s to witnessing how each of these experiences helps them grow a little bit more.
How have you struggled letting one of your little dragons run off to play with the other dragons? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.