Picture, if you will, a home in which the oldest child is about to embark on her first ever trip away from home all by herself. She's off to camp - to spend a full week focusing on art.
As you might expect, the impending trip means that someone will be looking at the list of required items (I just love that camps tell you what you need; it makes life much simpler). Suitcases will be hauled out of the closet, and then discarded for larger ones when the traveler realizes just how much space all that stuff takes.
And there will be shopping.
I don't care who you are, the likelihood that you have, in your house, right now, all of the things you need to pack for a week at camp is slim unless you just finished shopping. If you've just come back from camp, you're likely to be out of something -- batteries perhaps, but also likely you'll need to replace whatever that thing was that got lost at camp. However, in our house, we've found that packing for camp reveals that there are many things we should have had anyway that we don't.
There will also be revelations about just what is involved in preparing for a long trip. In years past, Mama Shadow did all the preparations, made up the list of things that were needed, bought all the stuff we needed during the week before, and oversaw all the packing and loading. In years past, the ShadowFamily was blissfully oblivious. They simply had to choose their books. This year, Kitty got to learn a bit.
And I got to do last minute shopping things down to the wire. I kid you not. I purchased the last item to go into her suitcase less than an hour before her flight departed.
On Thursday, I told Kitty to take the packing list from camp, and start packing... and urged her to make a list of EVERYTHING she might need, so that as she packed and found that she didn't have some item, she could add it to the list of things we'd need to buy. On Friday, we embarked on the shopping trip. The list was ominously long.
Oddly, the first thing on the list was socks and underwear, thus revealing to me that I do laundry more than I'd thought. If you have enough of those things to make it through each week in daily life, but not enough to make it for a week away when you won't be doing laundry .... well, you do the math.
Thanks to the TSA, of course, we got to buy "trial sizes" of all sorts of things: toothpaste, bodywash, lotion, deodorant..... I know they're only $0.99 each, but that adds up pretty fast when your cart is full of those things. Luckily, we escaped that effort for shampoo and conditioner, since we wisely have travel sized bottles in house.
Because it's art camp, we had to buy an Art Box into which to put the paints, pencils, erasers, brushes, pens, etc. that are the artist's tools. This box, of course, has to be just the right size. Not too big, else it won't fit in the suitcase; not too small, else it won't hold all the supplies. And it has to have the right sort of organizing divisions. I was lucky ... I managed to find the right source for said box in our first store (which was, in fact, the store I practically had to pay her to go into; she was certain it would be a waste of time). I was luckier still in that the necessary portfolio with which to transport her art was in the same store!
We shopped for several hours, and managed to avoid arguments the whole afternoon, then returned home. I told her to pack the suitcase, and when it had everything in it, we'd fetch the boyfriend for dinner. Why so fussy? Well, her flight left at 9:05 a.m. Saturday. This meant that we had to be at the airport by 8:15 a.m. to make sure that her bag was checked etc. (and to let me pay the check baggage fee (both ways)), and make sure that she made it through security in time etc. (I hate to think how early we'd have needed to be there if we lived in a city!). Kitty is emphatically not a morning person, so I knew that the suitcase had to be 100% done before I went to bed, or we'd never make it.
After dinner, I sat down with Kitty and the list, and for each item on it, I asked whether it was, in fact, in the suitcase. This meant that the boyfriend wound up lurking about watching movies on the TV with Bookworm while Kitty discovered how many things she'd forgotten to actually put in the suitcase. Like sheets. Oh, and a blanket.
Then, at 10:30 p.m., we drove the boyfriend home, and on our way back at 10:45, we had a conversation in which we discovered that she needed a padlock. Seriously. Even though she knew that they'd have lockers, but that she needed to provide the lock, it didn't occur to her to put the lock on the list of things she'd need. (Well, the camp didn't put the lock on their list either, so I suppose I can cut her some slack).
Thank heavens for all night drug stores -- we were able to purchase the padlock.
In the morning, I learned that though she has a flashlight, she'd been using it to read in bed for the past several weeks. Can you guess what this means about its AAA batteries? Yeah. So, we left early for the airport and were grateful that WalMart is open at 8:00 a.m.
I'm not sure Kitty was fully awake when we sent her through the TSA line. That meant that she was moving pretty slowly. Luckily for her, I suppose, the line moved more slowly than I'd ever seen one move. (Again, oh so grateful not to be doing this in a big city). Here she goes -- into the evil xray thing about which I will not blog today.
I was sure that my role as travel facilitator was over once she got through that thing. But alas, no.
When she boarded the wee plane, they determined that since she had the coveted single window seat, she did not have enough room to stow her carry-on bag (note, it's the smallest rolling bag I've seen that wasn't a child's toy-sized bag). They relieved her of it (I'm thinking it was the flight attendant), but did not give her a receipt of any kind, and she didn't know that she'd need to fetch it from the flight attendant -- and so looked for it in the gate way when she got off the plane. It wasn't there. This was troubling on many levels, most significantly to her -- it had her itinerary in it.
Two phone calls later (thank you cell phones), she had recovered the bag, and found her gate -- in O'hare! My facilitating duties were then, finally, over.
She texted on arrival in Traverse City, and has since texted that all is well. I likely won't hear from her again until she's chosen the coveted T-shirt.
I am pleased (and not surprised) that she successfully made it through changing planes in O'Hare, and finding the folks from camp. But, as moms are wont to be, I'm a little sad to see my firstborn stretching her wings. In barely more than a year, she'll be starting college. And the next thing I know, she'll be living on her own, out in the wild world. snif.