Dave and Tim are gearing up for a Boy Scout canoeing adventure.
Responding to an email from my friend Rachel, I wrote: Is it just me or does every mom heave an enormous sigh of relief when the guys and their gear finally make it out the door?
A large part of mothering -- and especially of mothering boys -- involves what I've come to think of as The Send Off.
It begins with pre-school and kindergarten -- you know, spiffy haircuts and new shoes. Then it's on to Cub Scout events and field trips, water bottles and sunscreen. You then advance to Scout Camp and vocations' retreats, backpacking trips and high adventure camp. The list grows long. The price tag inches up.
Mom bakes cookies, locates obscure items, dashes to Walmart for a few odds and ends (sunscreen, fifty feet of bouyant nylon rope, hat with wide brim). That will be $199, thank you very much.
In Mythbusters: The Camping Edition, I marvelled at the amount of gear these adventures demand. Honestly, I thought those days were behind us. Camp this year required a five pack of underwear and some tasty snacks. Done! No cha-ching! We now own it all!
And that is nearly true for general camping. But then we have specialty trips such as this canoe trip that, of course, will not involve a lazy paddle down a stream. No, they're starting in North Carolina and ending in Virginia, hitting class two and three rapids, portaging, purifying water -- the whole primitive camping experience. Fifty miles in three days.
I'll be spending extra time in prayer.
Through an act of the will, I'm putting all Worst Case Scenarios out of my mind and dwelling on what is true and pure and of good report and not on white water and giardia.
The Send Off follows a predictable pattern. It begins with the initial excitement about the trip, moves into serious quartermaster duties, escalates to They can't get out of this house fast enough, ends with a kiss and a wave.
Mom goes home, brews a fresh pot of coffee, and surveys the debris field. Well caffeinated, she is happy to tackle the mess as long as it doesn't involve rifling through the broiling hot attic in search of some device we're just sure we bought the last time or, worse still, heading out to Sports Authority one more time.
Yes, Tim and Dave will be off canoeing, and we now own dry bags, a water purifying device, and a large number of items designed to wick. Wick -- that may be a new one for you. Wicking materials promise to dry fast and control odor. Where teenage boys and white water meet, these are valuable qualities indeed. Shirts, shorts, socks, and underwear are all armed and ready to wick at a moment's notice.
As far as equipment goes, we're probably good until we hear rumors about a trip that involves spelunking or mountain climbing through an ice field. The headlamps we pick up for $2.00 at Mistah Harbor Freight probably won't cut the mustard in a cave. I'm guessing Walmart doesn't carry crampons or bottled oxygen.
Sometime in the not so distant future, I envision a different sort of Send Off. At the end of our family line we have this novel creation called a girl. There's so, so much that's awesome about girls in general and this girl in particular. And one of those awesome things is that I'll be on the other end of The Send Off.
Oh, I've attended my share of field trips and visited Scout camp on family night, but Scouting is predominantly a father-son activity (and one that I wholeheartedly endorse). In a few years, Ainsley will join what we call Little Sisters and off the two of us will go to ice skate and to camp, to do crafty things and to bowl.
I'm picturing Dave on the front porch handing me a steaming mug of joe and kissing his girls goodbye.