Michael Gerson has a very touching column on being a parent and watching your children go off to overnight camp. My kids aren't old enough for that, yet, but there are apsects of this I relate to. In the old days, is would have been one of those columns that people clip from their newspaper and tape up on the refrigerator. I don't think many people still do that, but anyway, read this column, especially if you have children:
The yearly departure for camp measures the progress of parental irrelevance. Four years ago, the first time my wife and I left our youngest son at sleep-away camp, there was no pretense of bravery on his part. There were only piteous tears, which returned, according to a camp counselor, every night for two weeks. I wanted nothing more than to run to him, to end the trauma we had inflicted and rescue him from independence. But I didn't. Each summer this departure grows easier for him and my older son -- and more difficult for me, until my bravery finally fails and all the tears are mine.
So this is the independence we seek for our children -- to turn our closest relationships into acquaintances. Of course, I knew this getting into parenthood. But the reality remains shocking. For a time, small hands take your own -- children look upward, and you fill their entire universe. They remain, to you, the most important things in the world. To them, over time, you become one important thing among many. And then an occasional visit or phone call. And then a memory, fond or otherwise.
Gerson is a wonderful writer -- just not a very logical thinker on public policy issues, and, sadly, he probably corrupted his judgment forever by falling in with George W. Bush.