I have a nine-year old. On one hand it seems kind of unbelievable but on the other, I almost can’t remember my life without Ishaan.
Some friends from Brooklyn were visiting last week and they stayed for Ishaan’s birthday breakfast. Having his friend Fiona here for a few days was great, but her being here for part of his birthday was a real treat. Our dear friends Laura and Michael and their beautiful children, Una and baby Theo, came for lunch. That was a special treat for me because I love Laura dearly and since we both moved away from Brooklyn I don’t get to see her nearly as often as I would like. After dinner Ishaan’s grandparents and great grandmother came over for cake so he got to see a lot of special people throughout the day.
We asked Ishaan what he wanted to do for his birthday and the only thing he really wanted to do was go caving. There is a great beginner cave close to our house, so gramma came over during the little ones’ nap time which allowed us to take Ishaan and Ulka caving. Ishaan wiggled down into a hole in the ground without a second thought. Ulka was a lot less sure, but with just a little encouragement decided she would at least go down and see what she thought. I’m so proud of her- she did great and we explored quite far in. I was probably as nervous as Ulka, but once I encouraged her to go I couldn’t very well back out. It was incredible down there. It was cold, wet and covered in clay. It was easy to imagine we were in another world. We all turned off our flashlights to experience the absolute total darkness. It is darkness that your eyes never adjust to, just complete blackness.
I love that my kids have such a sense of wonder and imagination. All of their senses are so keen and fresh. They talked about the sounds of the dripping water, and the smell of the clay and the crispness of the air underground with excitement. We explored around the main tunnel of the cave and walked along the trickle of a stream for a while, but didn’t go into any of the really tight tunnels. At one point Ulka shone her flashlight into a deep crevice and asked me if I thought a cave fairy lived in there. We stopped to take some photos and while we were standing in the quiet we heard a popping sound and Ishaan said “what was that? Goblins?” I love that they made a little trip down into an underground cave into a fairytale in their heads. It was a sweet little trip with just the two of them.
OFF TO CAMP
Ishaan has been dying to go to Deerfoot lodge for 2 years, but the camp requires campers to be 9 years old. The last session of camp started yesterday, so 24 hours after turning 9, we sent him off to camp in the Adirondacks for two weeks. He has been counting down the days all summer. I packed his bag with remarkably little stuff: 3 pairs of shorts, a pile of t-shirts, rain gear, hiking boots, and a few layering clothes. Not much for 2 weeks and no laundry, I hate to think about what it will look like when we unpack!
It is a pretty tough wilderness camp- the cabins have no electricity or running water. No showers, just bathing in the lake. They go on overnight hikes carrying their food, clothes, and sleeping bags themselves. They learn to swim and fish and canoe and do archery. Basically heaven for Ishaan. The counselors greeted us warmly and as soon as we checked in and dropped his backpack off on his bunk he went out the lake to take his swimming test. Ishaan has been working hard this summer on his strokes and breathing at the pool with me, but he had to swim farther than he has ever swum before. I was so nervous- if he didn’t pass he would have to wear a red wristband and stay in a little section near the beach until he could. He did awesome. He was so tired and struggled a bit but he made it. He looked a little proud but mostly just so relieved when they cut off his wristband. I looked very proud and a little relieved.
We walked around camp a little bit and poked into the different buildings. The craft cabin looks incredible. Some of the counselors are making canoes and they are true works of art- just incredibly beautiful. I’ll try to take some photos of them at pick up. There is a pottery wheel, a leather stitching, wood and copper carving. It was amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing what Ishaan comes home with.
After an hour or so we said our good byes. I was really good and held back my tears. Ishaan was so excited and seemed quite unphased by the fact that we were leaving him with a bunch of strangers for 14 nights. I’m so proud of him. He walked off to join the others, so confident and brave and trusting. Now I need to be brave too. It’s not so much that I miss Ishaan, I just want to know that he is having a good time, that he is not homesick, that he’s not lonely or feeling left out, that the camp is everything he imagined and more. However, since he’s not much of a writer and there are no phone calls allowed, I’ll have to trust that he is having a great time and wait to hear about his adventures when comes home. Now I’m off to write him a letter and make a rhubarb custard pie because there is nothing like pie to make one feel better.