Once upon a time I was staffing a camp bus and there was this one little boy of about eight who DID NOT want to go to camp. He clung and clung to his mother who, in a moment of extreme madness, had actually got on the bus* to say goodbye to him.

Two of us pried the kid off the mom, one finger at a time. Finally Mom was detached (and firmly directed off the bus) but then the kid latched firmly on to the handrail on the bus stairs and couldn’t be budged. The bus couldn’t legally leave with him there in front of the white line, of course, and the mom stood three feet away from the open door, continuing to feed the drama.

Five minutes of soothing conversation with the shrieking kid got us absolutely nowhere and was making my head pound — I was, shall we say, not at my best after a long night out — and the mom was looking like she was about to lose her wits entirely and come back on the bus so finally I looked at a friend of mine and kind of hopelessly said “Help. DO SOMETHING.” He reached over and very quickly and neatly flipped the kid up over the rail into the front seat of the bus before the kid even knew what was happening. The bus driver slammed the doors closed and we were off.

The kid didn’t stop shrieking for a good long time — Barrie, IIRC.**

That kid? That kid has nothing in common with my kid.

Off to camp!

A mere 60 hours after her arriving home from her usual summer adventures in Western Canada, today was Camp Day for M. We got to the bus departure zone today and she found her friends, ran around with them doing some excited shrill squeaking, then got on the bus for three weeks of camp without a backwards glance.

“Do you think she’ll come off again and say goodbye?” D asked, and we each gave it about 50% odds. She did, in the end. Then she got on the bus and we smiled and waved as it left, and I remembered That Kid and felt glad that my own kid chooses other forms of drama.

Maybe we’ll get a letter from her this year. I’d give that about 50% odds, too.

* Rule for parents at camp buses: no matter how upset your kid is (or you are) it’s best to deploy the Madagascar penguin solution: smile and wave, boys; smile and wave.

** Once he was at camp he was fine. They all are.
I did make sure to send his cabin on their canoe trip with someone other than me, though, because it was really loud shrieking.