If there’s a theme in the upcoming week at our house, it’s CAMP! My 17-year-old left today for four nights to attend a leadership camp at the University. (She’s actually staying in the same dorm where I lived….ahem….a FEW years ago!) Tomorrow I take my 12-year-old to camp for 5 nights. He’s never been gone so long and I’m a little worried–for myself! (I’m also more than a little interested if history repeats itself: Last year he went to this same camp for 3 nights and when he returned home, I was going through his stuff for laundry I noticed that his bar of soap was still in its paper wrapper!)
My youngest isn’t going on any sleepovers this week but she is starting band camp tomorrow–and this is a really neat program where for kids go and spend time playing (and experimenting) with almost every kind of instrument you can imagine: strings, woodwinds, and brass. At the end they decide which one “made their heart sing.” (That’s the question the coordinator asked my son–”Which one made your heart sing??” He chose the clarinet that’s the instrument he played in band last year.
But really, this post isn’t about any of these camps–rather it’s about what happened when my 17-year-old was filling out the application to attend this leadership camp. There was a question about her background and why she would make a good candidate for this particular experience. I immediately thought of her background and coming to America at the age of seven and how she joyfully adapted not only to living in an orphanage, but adapting to a new family, culture, and language and I told her to write that down in the blank. My daughter rolled her eyes and said, “Mom! I don’t want to always talk about that!”
Her comment took me aback and it made me question whether it’s more important to me in defining her than it is to her and how she sees herself? Obviously she doesn’t want that experience to define her, and it doesn’t. She is so much more than all of that. And I backed of when I sensed that she was reluctant to share that piece of her story with these people who would use it to determine her worthiness. At the same time, I reminded her that the way she emerged from those experiences said a lot about her character. That is not something I want her to dismiss.