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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Camp Drop-Off

I’m trying to be a big girl right now. My oldest is at tennis camp, a few days at a very prestigious university, smacking the ball with top coaches from dawn to dusk. He’s having the time of his life; I, on the other hand, am a nervous wreck.

“Caps?” I check off before leaving home.





“I’ve got it all, Mama, okay? I followed the list.”

Umm-hmm…. That would be a first. I understand what excitement can do to a young man and try to tick off obscure items. Later on, in the car, I continue.

“Pillow and pillowcase? And uh… uh…” I suddenly cannot think in English. “Bedroll?”

“Bedroll?” he wonders.

Who calls it a bedroll? My mind must be snapping under the pressure of leaving my firstborn.

Can I call him my firstborn? He’s the first adopted. But he was born first. Just not to me. He’s my firstborn and now he’s leaving. LEAVING! Waaahhh!

“How should we say goodbye?” I rehearse for several days before this. “I thought I could hug and kiss you, and then hold onto your leg while you try to walk away. Just drag me along for a few feet to let you know that I’ll miss you….”


“Alright, alright….”

We check him into his dorm room, thankfully airconditioned on the hottest day of the year. Triple digits that feel like quadruple. There are two raised beds on either side of the room, halfway inbetween the height of a bunkbed and a regular bed, two desks, two chairs, and two freestanding closets. The restrooms and showers are across the hall. He receives his room key and meal card. I glimpse his hand slightly shaking as he snaps them on the laniard.

He meets his roommate who turns out to live around the corner from us. His father and I laugh. Small world. Nice boy.

Map to the dining hall. Check. Map to the tennis courts. Check. Free t-shirt for camp photo. Check. Coaches introducing themselves. Check.

Other campers arrive, all top-notch kids. I can tell by how they walk, they’re good players. Not that any of this has been scientifically proven, but these kids are good. I know these things, my x-ray eyes sizing up the competition.

We settle on a hug in the car when we go back to retrieve his water bottle. A quick wave as I drive off. It’s over. He’s gone.

Within five minutes, the heavens open. Monsoon rains pour down, all on a day when it shouldn’t even be sprinkling. I wonder if it will break the humidity which is well over 100% if that’s possible. It doesn’t. My car jumps a curb that I can’t even see in the heavy downpour.

At the last minute, Petya had placed a rain poncho from his father in the glove compartment of the car.

“Don’t you want to put it in your bag?” I ask a couple of times. (For me, that’s restraint.)

“No, I’ll pack it when I get there.”

And there it sits after I’ve driven off. Thankfully, I put a small umbrella in his bag the day before.

I wonder how they’re going to play with the rain rising rapidly on the road and on the courts. But in this type of heat, it dries off within a couple of hours.

We hear from him eight hours later, as it nears bedtime. Benedetto and I are in different locations. We keep calling each other to see if he’s phoned the other.

“Here he is, now,” Benedetto sees his number come up as we’re in mid-conversation.

“Okay, go!” I enthuse, happy to hear that he is still alive after half a day and all evening without us.

He calls me a couple of minutes later, dead tired, and happy. I hear that the food is good, camp is fun, the other players are all good. I knew it. He’s dead tired, and I try not to ask too many questions, to let him know that he can call for a quick pick-me-up without Mama picking his brain too much.

What he doesn’t tell me, that he tells his father: he broke his racquet within the first few minutes of play. That has never happened before. It slid from his hand during a drill, which tells me he must have forgotten his absorbent wristbands. That wasn’t on my list!  Then again, they’re always in his racquet bag, and he always wears them.  He’s responsible, I tell myself.

And he brought along three racquets.

He’ll be fine, I tell myself, he’ll be fine, as I wait for his next call.


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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Shelley says:

    You’re hysterical. It will all work out. He’s probably too busy to call. Don’t worry, be happy!

  2. avatar Sybil says:

    Our oldest went away for the first time to a Speech and Debate event. Her Dad and I picked her up after a couple of days at our nearby rapid transit station where the kids from this area traveled to and from. Before she got in the car she was saying goodbye to a local guy who also went. He kissed her on the MOUTH – on the MOUTH !!! I thought her Dad would have a coronary right there and then. lol
    So, in addition to all of your concerns you can now think of romance too!

    • avatar admin says:

      No, no, no, Sybil! I have my fingers in my ears–la, la, la, la, la! Oy, at least the camps where all four will be going are highly supervised in terms of boys and girls. The only regular camp is this tennis one and I think Petya can handle it. (At least I talked with him 1,000x about girls, his own personal standards no matter what anyone else does, etc., and how he’s there for tennis, lol.) Thankfully, the overnight campers that I saw all turned out to be boys. Our other three could be easily influenced, I believe, so we need some strong oversight in place until they’re more mature.

      Your daughter was kissed on the MOUTH???!!! I think I would have fallen over and fainted outright. Here’s hoping she was 45 at the time…. Aiiyygghhh!

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