Take Good Care of My Baby.
Dylan went away for the weekend – for the first time – with his church group, and without either of his parents. I picked him up early from school, forced him to do homework before he left, and drove him to the church.
“Dylan!” yelled a girl from across the parking lot. “Hi, Dylan!” yelled a boy.
It was obvious that I was the only one who wasn’t enjoying the moment. Kids were running back and forth in little clusters. Two adults were throwing suitcases in the back of a huge van. Everyone was smiling.
It was hard not to smile, but I managed it.
I chatted with a chaperone, hoping for sympathy. “It’s his first time being away from home for this long,” I told her.
“For two days?” she said. She almost laughed, but then thought better of it.
“You have to sign in!” someone yelled, and we headed inside. Dylan signed his name and got his bus number (2 out of 2). He found his roommates – two boys he’d requested by name weeks earlier. He’d written, “…if he’s going” next to one name.
After dropping off his stuff and signing in, there wasn’t much else to do until the bus was leaving – 45 minutes later. So the kids were talking, hanging out, all excited to be together.
I said, “I’ll just go inside with you for five minutes.” I wasn’t quite willing to let him go yet – and I had tons of time before I had to pick up Shane from basketball practice.
“There really isn’t much for you to do in there,” Dylan said.
“That’s okay,” I told him. “I just like to watch you with your friends.” I didn’t tell him that I still see him, at will, as a three-year-old – and love watching him, all grown up, every bit as much as I did then.
It doesn’t help that this church is the home of his preschool, where I watched him every day for two years, beaming as he came out the door with a giant fingerpainting, or learning to make himself swing on the playground swingset.
So I went inside, to watch him with his friends. I was the only adult inside not going on the trip. I stood there for maybe 24 seconds.
“You’re right,” I told Dylan. “There isn’t much for me to do in here.”
“Yeah,” he said.
I hugged him one more time. “You have a great time!” I said.
“I think I will,” he said.
I flashed him the I love you sign and headed out the door. Going back to my car, the ancient song, “Take Good Care of My Baby” popped uncontrollably into my head and tears came to my eyes.
I do wonder how I will ever survive the days my boys leave for college.
On the second night, I texted Dylan: “Hope u had a spectacular day! Luv u.”
Half an hour later, he texted back: “I did! Love ya too.”
He had a spectacular day! And that is all that matters.