Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Camper Returns

Bar Mitzvahzilla came back from camp on Sunday. I had gotten a Twitter update that the camp buses left early, so I was stalking the parking lot they'd be pulling into, hovering there for my boy. Two buses pulled in. I stood there, watching the doors of both buses, a smile frozen on my face, my head flipping from side to side - one bus, then the other bus, one bus, then the other bus- when suddenly both were empty. No Bar Mitzvahzilla. Then someone told me there was a third bus that had pulled in while I was watching the first two.

Of course, I missed him completely. I found him over by the mountain of duffel bags -and his lone rolling suitcase - standing there, dirty, with a weird-looking medieval monk-type haircut. It was his hair but with three and a half weeks of grease in it.

Still, there he was! My boy! The joy! The relief! The love!

Then things got back to normal.

Here's what he did immediately. Since he knew Husband and I were pretty much complete blithering wrecks after him away, and after getting his increasingly harrowing letters about camp life ("Mom, this place is like the Holocaust: Never Again."), he pressed his advantage, asking if he could get access to his banned electronics for the night. We caved. So much for a joy-filled evening of camp stories.

In the middle of his anguished month away, when I was afraid to open his letters because of his pleas for me to come get him ("Again, Mom, could you please come pick me up?"), and in order to make sure he wanted to survive camp and live long enough to come home, I promised Bar Mitzvahzilla two things in my return letters: a completely redone bedroom and a night over at his cousins' house before we leave on vacation.

I'm not going to go into a big description of what his bedroom looked like before but let's just say that if I stood at one end of our pretty long hallway with his room at the far end, I could smell it. Also, it was like a museum of his childhood. I guess we just hadn't sorted through the toys for a few years. We had sorted through them back when the Power Rangers had to go, but we hadn't sorted ever since Spiderman had to go. And we had never sorted through the books. I mean, Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? was in there.

So I spent days crawling on my belly with a crevice tool, wearing a chemical poisoning suit from head to toe to grab his bedding and throw it out, and, finally, to reassemble the room as no longer that of a boy, but of a teenager.

He came home and walked in there, mesmerized. A double bed. A macho comforter -not Sponge Bob anymore - toys cleared out except for age-appropriate weaponry hidden underneath the bed. There's a chair and ottoman, so he can entertain.

And then he laid around like a bum. He watched too many DVDs. He monopolized the computer. He had to look through every little thing I bought him from his school supply list to make sure all of it met his exacting requirements to be both macho and cool because, apparently, certain colors need not apply. He was hungry on the hour and ate food by swallowing it whole, but anything he did manage to chew ended up on the floor.

Just when I was starting to get just the tiniest bit impatient with him, he charged up his dormant cell phone and called in the second part of my promise, the night over at his cousins' house. And now? Gone.

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