Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Nobody told me there'd be days like these.

**Rough evening here at the Ack! Thbbbt! household. Pardon me while I purge some sadness. Tomorrow morning's post will be pretty frickin' happy, though.***

Two decades ago, I was a camp counselor.
I liked it so much I went three/four years in a row.

One year, one of my campers came to me with his camera.
"The camp leader told me that sometimes you guys go to town. Can you buy me some batteries?"
"Some counselors go to town. I don't," I told him.
"But, I need batteries. They said you can go."
"I'm sorry. I don't leave camp until you guys do."

And, we left it at that.
I was sure I told him I would NOT be going to town.
He was sure he told me he needed batteries and I was the only one who could get them for him.

Then came Friday night.
Friday night when everyone dresses up nice and has a fancy meal together. The last night before everyone goes home. Friday night... when everyone takes pictures of everyone.

Again, he came to me with his camera.
"Did you get me any batteries?"

I looked at his camera that Friday night.
And realization pierced my heart.
I looked into his eyes. I saw all of his new friends there. All of his friends that he didn't get one single picture with all week. That he wouldn't get a picture with tonight.
"No," I choked. "I'm sorry. I didn't."

He walked away. Didn't say a word.

The tears were streaming before I could think. The other counselors standing there had no idea what had gone wrong. I couldn't speak. I couldn't breathe. I ran to my bunk and wailed into my pillow.
I had blown it.
He had only asked me for one thing. And I blew it.
I had ruined his entire summer camp because I could have gone to town and gotten batteries. If I didn't want to go, I could have asked one of the other counselors to pick up a pack.
I did nothing.
I blew it.

My heart broke into a million pieces that night.
Eric. His name was Eric.
Holy crap. I still frickin' remember his name.

The next day, someone had thought to take the batteries out of their own camera and let him borrow them. We got a nice group photo after breakfast, and I saw Eric the rest of the morning snapping shots of his friends and their families as they left.
I was glad he got some pictures.
I was glad someone came through for him.

But, I never forgot that sinking feeling. It hurt as if it had happened to me.
How could I disappoint someone so badly?

***

Nobody told me that's how I'd feel nearly everyday as a parent.
Over one stupid schoolpaper that disappears from the kitchen table.
Soccer shoes and shin guards that end up in the wrong family vehicle and head 8 miles away from the practice field.
An old toy that no one played with for three years that got donated to Goodwill the week before the boys spied the dumb thing in an old home video and sudden wanted to play with it.

It breaks my heart. It hurts like hell. It never gets easier.
Do you know this feeling?
How come no one ever tells you how hard being a mom is going to be?

***

I just Googled Eric and found his Facebook page.
He has lots of pictures on it.

***Monday Morning update***

After a restful night's sleep, Younger Son woke up feeling just fine with life even though we never did find that school paper.
I, on the other hand, lost three hours of sleep with a pain in my heart wondering where that paper went.

***Monday evening update***

He had left it at school.
Thbbbt!

3 comments:

LeeAnn said...

I had a good comment planned but I think really, you don't need that.
You need a hug.
If I could find a box and flag down the FedEx guy, I'd send one.

Richmond said...

Oh jeez... I am sure Eric grew up just fine. It's okay, Honey. Nothing's perfect - especially we Moms.

Bob said...

Yeah, we all have regrets about our dumb stunts and lost opportunities, but the past just is. Look for the chances to praise the kids today. Even when they're grown and gone, they still want to hear, "Good job!" Trust me, I know.