My son just spent a week as an “Outdoor School Camp Counselor”. He came home one day (he’s in 10th grade), put a paper in front of me and said, “I’m going to do this. I get to miss school for a week – but I make up the work, teachers have to sign off on it. I will be a counselor to 6th graders for a week, earn 1/2 credit for high school, 2 college credits if I write an essay and 100 hours of community service.”
Well how can a mother argue with a child who is taking initiative, going above and beyond and working to help others and help his college resumé? Certainly not this one! I was all for it.
I just heard a new label for my style of parenting: I’m a ‘consultative parent’. Meaning I guide and advise but let my son take responsibility for himself and suffer any potential consequences. (To a point, of course!) I’m not the mom who double checks every homework assignment – I already completed the 10th grade. And when I asked him if he had everything he needed for camp the week before and was met with eye-rolls and “relax!” – I decided to let the chips fall where they may on that too.
If the child can drive a car, he should be able to pack for camp, right? Especially since there was a list to consult.
I have a feeling you know where this story is going… my dear child almost went to camp without a sleeping bag. He didn’t have a warm enough jacket in my opinion, and no real rain gear – even though that was on the list in all CAPS and BOLD. He did go without a towel, shampoo, flashlight and a few others things I can’t recall. I realized he didn’t pack a towel at 11 pm the first night he was gone…
They weren’t allowed any communication during the time they were gone so I had no idea how things were going. Like any new experience a child heads out on – it could go one of two ways. I figured he’d come home and say it was the worst week of his life, he was cold and wet and never wanted to do it again.
Luckily I was greeted with a text that said, “It was SWEET!” (That’s good!) He had a great time – although he did admit to being a little cold at times. But he said something that made me so proud -
Well, I guess I’m a pretty good mom, because what is our job, if not to teach our children to adapt and thrive in any circumstance they find themselves in. Sometimes I feel like a bit less than “Super Mom” because I let my son learn his own lessons more than many mothers I see. But in the end, teaching him to be independent, happy, optimistic and adaptable is what I’m after. And I’d say I’m doing a pretty sweet job!
– Tara Reed