I should have followed up about Emily’s sleepaway camp.
I had some trepidation about this. Girls can be ogres at age 9. If one of her cabin mates found a pullup, or saw (or smelled) a wet sleeping bag, it could be a disaster. Even if nothing happened, the stress about the risk of exposure might ruin it for her.
It was a smashing success.
To start, Em is a tough, smart, personable kid, mature for her age. She makes friends easily. She doesn’t care if she’s in or out of a clique. Even if the truth leaked out, she could probably handle it.
She was prepared. Her sleeping bag has a waterproof liner. She had enough pullups and Ziplocs to last her the two weeks.
She also has been to sleepovers, where she has gotten adept at discreetly changing in and out of her pullup, getting it in a Ziploc, disposing of it and cleaning herself up. One difference, though: For a sleepover, I can pre-position a pullup and Ziploc in the bottom of her sleeping bag. Camp would require her to handle that herself, and do it every day.
We had a heart-to-heart when she first told me that she wanted to go to camp. We had another heart-to-heart the night before she left. She wanted to do it, and was determined not to worry and to have fun.
I suggested to Emily that she might want to tell her cabin counselor, but she was against it.
In the event, everything went brilliantly.
She had no problem getting a pullup and Ziploc from her duffel to her sleeping bag. Getting the pullup on after lights-out was a breeze. She woke up in a wet pullup a few times, but got it off, into a Ziploc and disposed without anyone the wiser.
Em came home from camp more self-reliant and confident. Camp itself – being away from home and parents, being to a greater extent on your own – probably does that for most kids, and did for Em.
But there was something more. Em dealt with something important (and having seemingly great potential consequence) with discretion, careful planning and execution. And she did it on her own.