This holiday season, our family is spread all over the place. Blake was the first to leave, heading off to a camp he’s been wanting to attend. The hubby and Michael then left for a community service trip in Central America. And here I am, writing as I get ready to spend some time with my mom, sister and sister-in-law. While I miss everyone, I think the break is good for us all.
The morning Blake was to leave, my husband started to have separation anxiety. He started to worry about how Blake was feeling and how he would do at camp. He has never gone off on his own before. He was not going with a friend, and he tends to be the kid who is on the periphery, often not really fitting in.
“I hope they’re nice to our little guy,” my husband said to me, his lower lip protruding. “I’m going to go talk to him.”
Blake is not really little anymore, but he is our youngest, and we have definitely protected him quite a bit. I was having pangs of anxiety for him myself. Would the other kids be nice? Would Blake join the group, or hang out alone, lost in his thoughts? Would he be homesick and try to come home early? Would I be facing calls from the Camp Director sharing the woes my son was facing?
The hubby returned a bit later with a smile on his face.
“That kid is really amazing sometimes,” he declared. “I asked him if he was nervous and he wondered why I was asking. I told him that this is something new and sometimes new things make us nervous. I even told him that I’m nervous about my own trip. I don’t know what the village will be like, or the people. I don’t know what kind of food they will be serving me or if I’ll like it.”
“So what did he say?” I wondered.
“He said, ‘Dad, I’ve been dealing with fear my whole life. I’m used to this. If you’re really worried about what’s going to happen, just allow yourself to think the bad thoughts. If you’re afraid they’re going to feed you something awful, then imagine that. Like snails – imagine they feed you snails. Think that thought over and over. It’ll become boring and it won’t bother you anymore.’ ”
“That kid. He completely ‘gets’ how to deal with anxiety. Imagine where he’d be with his OCD if he wasn’t so intent on proving us wrong.”
So, Blake schooled Dad on dealing with anxiety. And then, he and I drove the hour-plus trip to camp. After a health check and some initial introductions, I was told to be on my way. Blake was already cracking jokes with his counselor when I left. As I walked back to the car, I took one look back. A tear worked its way from my eye as my throat tightened. I left full of hope that Blake will find a measure of peace during his time away. I hope we all do.