Sunday, June 4, 2017

Leaving the Nest

This weekend started a busy month of weekends to kick off our summer.  We have lacrosse tournaments all but one weekend from next weekend until the weekend after July 4th, and this weekend was Jacob's training camp for his travel lacrosse team.  It would be his first time away overnight (without any family), for two nights away from us.  It's a great opportunity, both to learn and to get better acquainted with his teammates.  We had to drop him off Friday afternoon at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which is literally down the road from my office.  You may otherwise know it as the place I used to run the Corporate Challenge each year, though that is moving downtown this year.  Anyway, as excited as we were for him, we were also excited to have a weekend alone with Carter.  Jacob had more than four years of weekends alone with us, and Carter has had pretty much none.  A few hours here and there, but a whole weekend?  Unheard of!

It was definitely a different experience taking my almost-nine-year-old to what felt a lot like college move-in day.  We checked in, got his room assignment and key, then visited with the nurse to drop off medicine and discuss the gluten-free situation a bit more deeply.  We sent him with a few snacks just in case, but it appeared they had it covered.  As we were leaving check-in, we ran into one of Jacob's buddies, a kid who is a year older than him but currently plays against him in house and who goes to our church.  His mom was Jacob's lunch monitor for years, and his dad is a lacrosse coach.  It was nice to stroll over to the dorms together.

This is the sundial we walked past (from the other direction) on the way to the dorms. 
The mood outside the dorm was festive and a little chaotic.  There were kids of all ages--from a year younger than Jacob all the way up to high school seniors.  Most of the kids were dressed in their team gear, and there were still a number of parents milling around. 
It took us a while to get up to his room as the elevators were busy and the stairways were mysteriously locked.  But eventually we got up there and I suddenly felt very fortunate for my residence hall experience.  The hallways were cramped and dark.  A larger than expected freshman class a few years ago forced the conversion of common lounges into quad rooms.  And the individual rooms were tiny!  My corridor rooms were at least a third bigger, and my suite rooms were probably just a bit smaller but it mattered less with a connected living room.  The furniture didn't even really fit, as the dresser was taking up most of the hanging space in the closet.  It was probably comparable in size to the single I stayed in at Dartmouth two years ago, but that one seems so much nicer!
Here's the thing--and I told Jacob this when he was talking like he'd be staying at a hotel--dorm rooms are like prison cells.  They are the most basic, horrible little rooms.  You walk in and they're so bare.  Our excitement every year was what awful institutional color it might be (our freshman blue was amazing, though) and what the desks would be like (one year we had these amazing hutches).  But the moment you walk in, the flaws jump out--nicked up furniture, marks on the walls, cold cinderblocks, gross tile.  But then you make the bed, put your stuff on the desk and shelves, hang up some posters, and get a cold beverage out of your fridge, and suddenly it's home.  I refused to take down my posters or other decorations until the very last minute every year because there was nothing more depressing than studying through exam week in a sterile, sad room.  Despite my warning, Jacob was still pretty surprised by how empty it was!
I quickly made his bed and he got changed to get ready for his first practice. 

Like any good parent, I had to take the move-in picture!
Note how high the bed is, and remember that...but doesn't he look like such a big kid?  Could be doing the real thing in nine years!  (Oh, and those were my college sheets--figured the XL twin was a good plan!)
So, after that we took him down to his team and shortly after they were off to the bus to practice.  And that was it!  He was off for his weekend--well, until Saturday morning when we had to grab him for his lacrosse game, but more on that in a minute.  We ran off to get Carter from daycare, then went out to dinner at Carmine's, one of our favorite places pre-Celiac diagnosis.  Craig and I had pizza, which is so good there, and Carter got his kids' meal (they're so cheap that it's nearly the same price as buying a drink for him alone), and we all had a nice dinner.  We stopped at the Walgreens next door to look at the Redbox (no luck that night), and then went home to let Carter pick a movie of his choice.

It was amazing to not have to yell or separate the kids or get annoyed with potty talk.  I missed Jacob, of course, and thought about him constantly.  But it was a nice break to not have to worry about the kids battling.  Carter was a good boy, too, and overall the whole thing felt a little too easy!  It actually gave me some insight into families with only children.  We only knew life with a toddler only child before Carter came into the picture.  But it turns out that when they're older things get much easier and much quieter.  I can see where things almost get boring!  I guess I'd like more of a happy medium--not having to scream but having enough action to keep it interesting!  I was grateful for the break, though, and we had a really good time with Carter.

The original plan for the next day was to take Carter to the zoo.  However, we found out that a big part of the zoo was closed to prepare for their big fundraiser that night, and that was the first crack in the foundation of our day.  We'd also had a back-and-forth debate about Jacob's Saturday morning game with his house team.  We really wanted him to stay at camp, but he really wanted to play.  We should have just laid down the law, for a lot of reasons, but in the end it was actually good he played because they had a few no-shows and might have forfeited if he or two of his other teammates who were at the camp didn't leave.  But the game was in the middle of the day--we left at 10:15 and didn't drop him back off until about 1:30--and by the time we grabbed lunch ourselves (Carter's choice--Wendy's), it was after 2:30 and we'd only have a little bit of time at the zoo anyway.  He'd also been a little challenging that day, so we opted to go toward home and visit a playground instead.  We went to the one at Jacob's old school, as he sees it when we pick Jacob up at the afterschool program and I knew it was a good one for his age.  He had a lot of fun running around and climbing everything!

He did so well climbing across this step bridge!

He is a great climber!
We sat on these little step things and he said we were on motorcycles.

He's riding on this motorcycle and I'm riding behind him..
There was a little girl who I think was probably less than a year older than him running around, as well, and they had a great time together.  I actually felt a little bad for her, because her parents were a bit overweight and didn't play with her at all.  I was glad that she and Carter had fun together, but it was sad when she had to leave and started crying.  We stuck around for a bit longer and Carter wanted to play hide-and-seek...though I think his hiding skills need some work!
This was his spot, and Craig was standing just to my right!  Haha!
We had to stop at Wegmans and pick up a few things, and the boys picked a movie that they knew Jacob wouldn't watch.  After dinner, we all started watching it, but I decided I needed to run out and do some yard work since the forecast for today wasn't great.  I trimmed bushes, which turned into tree trimming and pruning away dead stuff from the underside of another bush.  I got a bunch of bug bites, tweaked my shoulder, and still pushed through to clean it all up.  I didn't have enough arm strength to get through everything, but I did a bunch and was happy it was done.  Of course today I discovered more aphids on some bushes I already sprayed and pruned, but it's definitely a process (albeit one I won't have much time for in the next month).

Today the weather was rainy and cool.  We were trying to figure out how to do church and make it to the last program at Jacob's camp, but in the end the timing just didn't work out for both.  We did church, grabbed lunch, then took off early because we wanted to hit up the county's electronics recycling event nearby RIT.  Little did we know it would be a very long wait--45 minutes in a long line of traffic--but in the end we offloaded an old TV, a broken toaster oven and portable DVD player, and a bunch of old cell phones.  And they presented Carter with a giant popsicle for his patience (although I'll spare you the full story of the potty emergency in the car...but thank goodness we had an empty bottle!).

And yes, it is as big as it looks!
He was already pretty messy by the time we got to RIT, but we managed without a terrible mess in the end!  We grabbed all of Jacob's stuff and headed home.  And of course, once we got here the usual ridiculousness commenced once again.

Overall, Jacob had a great time.  The first night was rough because Jacob and his roommate (a house teammate of his) couldn't get in their high beds.  Apparently neither figured out to pull a desk chair over!  Then the kids were loud in the night, and a knee hockey game broke out around 1am.  I'm not clear on how many hours of sleep he even got, but based on his performance in his game, I think he was a little sleepy.  It sounded like last night was better.  We were worried about the food, and while it seems like his choices were limited, he really liked what he ate.  Practice was "boring" and this morning he was freezing, but he really seemed to enjoy the music and guest speaker, a former NFL player.  He also got his official FCA Bible, which has athlete-based devotions and notes in it.  I really liked that he got a great character-building experience this weekend in addition to the lacrosse experience.  I think he probably learned a lot about being on his own, which is good for him, too.  I think he'll be looking forward to doing it again next year!

The experience was unique for us, too, I think.  It was a little tough to wrap my brain around.  I mean, I was only as comfortable with it as I was because I knew he was happy and taken care of.  It was a relief to not have to yell and keep the kids apart, and I didn't miss that part, but there was definitely a void without him here.  It was a nice change of pace for all of us, but hopefully we all have a greater appreciation for what we have.

Onward to our first tournament next weekend! 

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