If you had peeked into my living room last week you would have thought a bomb had gone off. I have spent the better part of the last few days getting my kids to camp. Last week we laid out all their gear and made copious lists which we checked and rechecked to make sure that they wouldn't be missing anything. There were sleeping bags, bowls & sporks (fork & spoon in one utensil), dental floss and travel toothbrushes, riding helmets, boots, Teva's, PBA-free water bottles, sun hats & woolen caps, pocket knives, head lamps, stuff sacks, wet gear bags, flashlights, environment friendly shampoo, bath soap, and laundry soap, polar-fleece tops, hiking boots, ground covers, sun block, journals, cameras, waterproof this and waterproof that. The list goes on and on. You name it they had it.
This is the first time either of my girls is going to camp. I feel a bit like a fish out of water with the whole topic. Although I have known for years that many, many parents in the United States send their kids to camp during the summer, I feel like I am letting go of my babies. It seems like only yesterday they were just as little as Alex, the little boy I have painted. I titled it "Sharpshooter" because when he was barely 24 inches tall or so, I remember him looking at me with a sheepish little grin as I said my goodbyes to his mom. He stood there with his hands in his pockets with the same posture of a grown man waiting around at a church for a wedding to begin. He was barely older than a baby and yet, at the same time, also a little man. Just as I was getting ready to leave he drew his hand out of one of his pockets as if he were about to enter a duel with a pistol. I stood there in a trance as barely a second past by and he brought his little hand, formed like a pistol, to his lips, kissed the "barrel" end of his finger, pointed it at me, and blew a forceful blow of air in my direction. That was it - I had been shot through the heart and I was now his forever. Just like that, in a matter of seconds, he had won me over for life. Funny how guys can do that to us, no matter what their age. From that point on I have always referred to Alex as the Sharpshooter.
This is my first attempt at painting a face, it is a postcard going to Danielle, or Daniela as I have called her for the past fifteen years. I tried my best, Daniela, to capture your littlest one. I found it nearly impossible to convey the softness of his skin. Alex is much too beautiful a child to suffer from the inadequacies of my brush skills, but it will have to do for today. People aren't going to believe that Alex could have such huge, beautiful brown eyes, but I painted them adding no more and attempting to not take anything away. There will be many, many women in the future who will succumb to those eyes and Lord help them if he is still using his sharpshooter tactics.
I could have eaten him alive when he did that. Enjoy him to the max, because as I am discovering this week, before you know it, it is time to let them go.