“I don’t miss them”, Amy said calmly. That was on Tuesday, and her brothers had been gone for two days. They left for Camp Sacred Heart (see here and here) the previous Sunday. Amy seemed to be enjoying herself in their absence.
“Are you sure you don’t miss your brothers?” I asked on Wednesday.
“I don’t miss them. Except maybe I miss them helping take care of Annie and doing the chores.” She said it matter-of-factly.
“Are you sure you don’t miss them at all?”
“Yes, I’m sure! And they don’t miss me either!”
Amy is always quiet, but by Thursday she was unusually quiet. That evening I asked her how her day was, and she said “not very good” because there wasn’t much to do. I reminded her of all the things she had been doing, but that didn’t seem to help. So far this week one of our cats had four kittens and another goat had a kid. The best smile I saw on her face was Wednesday afternoon when she carried the new white kid in her arms all the way to my office to tell me the news. She was beaming then, but the smiles didn’t last.
Friday was no different. Amy still insisted she didn’t miss them. Would she be happy to see them? “They’re just going to talk and talk about camp when they get home. Just like last year.”
I picked the boys up on Saturday morning and returned to the ranch around 2:00pm. Melancholy Amy lit up like a candle and the smile still hasn’t left her lips. She listens eagerly to their stories and asks lots of questions. Last night she picked up a rubber band and fired the first shot at Jonathan, who chased her down and fired back. At dinner she teased Christopher playfully and couldn’t take her eyes off of his sunburned face. No, she didn’t miss them at all.
Amanda, my little five-year old chatterbox, couldn’t be more different than Amy. She relished having more of her parents’ attention last week. She often accompanied me on my evening chores and tried her best to be helpful. Fatherhood sure makes a man feel big. She thinks I know everything (except not as much as mommy). Amanda and Christopher often play together, and for the most part Christopher is good big brother to her. They get along well about 75% of the time, but they’re both hard-headed choleric personalities and they can clash fiercely. She told me during the week that she missed her brothers but she didn’t miss fighting with Christopher. This morning, however, Amanda burst into the bedroom to tell me that she had been playing with Christopher and “we didn’t argue at all”!
My boys have changed. Jonathan, who inherited my boyhood social awkwardness, is standing a little taller. He has a spring in his step and a new confidence in his voice. Christopher, too, seems a little more mature and a little less goofy. They both obey a little more promptly. This is Jonathan’s third year, and Christopher’s second. Camp Sacred Heart has been good for them both. The priests, seminarians, and counselors are extremely dedicated and work very hard to be good examples for the boys. Most of the boys come from strong Catholic families and are exemplary role models themselves. Some of these boys see each other only once a year – at camp. Camp Sacred Heart must be the only boys camp of its kind in California: rigorous, adventurous, disciplined, deeply devout, and fully traditional. It’s an incalculable blessing to all of us.