Casey had his Washington D.C. experience last week. It was a week with many unique opportunities; a time to experience the camaraderie that develops so quickly in communities that live together for short times--we used to call them "mountain top" experiences; a chance to test maturity; a moment in time that will remain over the years.
He will be writing about it on his blog once he catches up on school work, takes a few tests, reads a book and all those things that school kids must do. Maybe he'll find an hour or so next weekend. So I'll let him tell you about dinner dances, embassy dinners, Supreme Court deliberations, bus accidents and all that stuff.
I think I'll share about an eleven year old rising to challenges, handling a week away from home and a little about the learning curve for gramma.
Before Casey left, we put extensive thought into how to prepare him for the week, what he would need, how he could access money, how to address homesickness and a myriad of other types of adult obsessive thinking. In the future, I must remember that such compulsive behavior fails to account for the natural proclivities of the child mind.
Here's the run down of our failures of guidance and Casey's total boyishness.
- No bath for 6 days
- Brushed teeth twice (and he wears braces.)
- Returned with a suitcase half full of clean clothes (he did change underwear.)
- Used his ATM card for unique souvenirs such as a $75 snow lion from the National Natural Museum and two plastic trash picker uppers. The second treasure's purpose has nothing to do with a commitment to ecology. It seems they will make perfect robot arms when he decides to be a robot.
Where is the copy of the Declaration of Independence? The feathered ink quills and parchment paper sold in bulk at Williamsburg? Horseshoes fashioned by the blacksmith? Candles? Anything that speaks of the experience? At this point, they have still to be found.
We had worried about Casey becoming homesick--well, to be truthful, he worried a lot about that, too. The morning he left, he didn't want to go. We gave him Ken's mobile so that he could call and keep in touch. And, he did call when the plane landed in D.C.--more for the thrill of using the phone than checking in. But, it was much more fun to take pictures with the phone than the camera.
After that, he called when the bus was hit by a car and when he took possession of Tras. As we sat at home, wondering what he was doing, how he was, missing him, his time was full of friendships, sharing a hotel room with other boys, adventure, learning and excitement.
Finally, he forgot the binder the program gave him which had his daily agendas, his notes, programs, etc--the things that we adults think are so important for future memories. I called the hotel and program and it may still be found. I hope so.
We need the binder to really find out about his week. It is coming out in bits and pieces--like today he remembered to tell us that he was chosen to demonstrate the routine of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. After that the kids called him "soldier boy."
So..what did I learn?
- Kids can take care of themselves and survive without all of the adult rules and concerns.
- Not to put so much money in his account-if it's there, it's meant to be spent.
- Not to worry about quantity of clothes.
- Let Casey use "poor judgement" and listen to the whispers that call from store shelves--friends helped me to understand this. Traz will be a long-term companion.
- Listen to the memories as they come and be thankful he has them.