Lost and Found

I retrieved a GI Joe lunch box and a Speed Racer water bottle from the day camp lost & found this morning. We’re still missing two water bottles, a purple lunch bag and three pairs of goggles, but it’s a start.

How does one child lose that much stuff in less than two weeks of camp? The answer: teenage counselors. It would take a mom to ensure that ten six-year-olds returned home with every item they brought with them in the morning. And not just any mom – a super-charged, uber-organized woman of steel.

Lunchboxes, water bottles, sunscreen, towels, flip-flops. It’s a wonder the kids come home dressed, wearing the same underwear they put on in the morning.

I run the backpack checklist in my head every night before bed: water shoes (check); sunscreen (check); the spray kind Josh likes best, not that icky cream (check); a good water bottle, not a boring or leaky one (check); shorts and underwear for after swim lessons (check); towel (check); goggles that fit and won’t break (check).

Then in the morning I review it all again, filling the water bottle and adding a lunch box (or a paper bag on those days when two lunch boxes have already gone missing).

Today we rode our bikes to camp. “Let me be the leader, Mommy,” Josh called out as he pedaled down the driveway. He knows the one-mile route by heart. And off he went, zipping along on his tiny one-speed bicycle, carefully locking it to the bike rack when we arrived, putting his lunch in the lunch basket, his backpack in the camp room.

Everything is practice for freedom he doesn’t even know is coming: check the intersection before crossing the street; crash into a parked car, then get up again and keep riding; check the driveways more carefully for the next block; keep riding up the hill even though it’s hard; warn the lady with the stroller that you’re coming through on her left.

No checklist can keep him safe. No checklist can ensure that he comes and goes with all the right gear every time. So I give him a kiss and ride home on my own. We’ll look for the goggles tomorrow.

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