Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blake's First Overnight Camp & R-rated shower gel

Blake left for college today. Well, not really college, but a soccer camp held at a university campus.

This morning Brett drove Blake to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for his first overnight camp -- a soccer camp, as those of you who know him might have guessed. I don't think Blake, normally a home-body, would have entertained ideas of any other type of outdoor camp. But when he checked out the website and got word that a teammate wanted to go with him, he was in.

Knowing that he might be facing some occasional uneasiness about his first trip away from home without parent or grandparent supervision, I tried to really pump up the whole camp experience, telling Blake about the fun times I had when I went to Girl Scout camps. I know canoeing, crafts and giggly overnight sessions aren't the same as power shooting, scrimmages and volleys, but it was all I had.

I also wanted him to be prepared, so I told him the showering might be a little less private than at home.

His eyes grew wide and inquisitive.

"What ... what do you mean?"

So I had to explain the basics of locker room showers. I don't think he was deterred, which was good, but he looked a bit uneasy.

"I'm sure there will probably be stalls or walls of some kind," I offered. "Just not a private bathroom like at home."

I see some of the uneasiness drift away.

Then came the physical preparation. Blake began throwing his clothes in his suitcase packing early in the week.

I printed out the list and away he went, filling his suitcase in typical 11-year-old boy style. No order whatsoever -- shorts, shirts, socks, boxers thrown about. And of course, I, being a mother,
his mother, had to empty it out, fold everything up and put the shorts on one side and the shirts on the other.

After spending Saturday with a friend, he woke up this morning in that giddy/silly mood reserved for only the most special of days -- like a big soccer tournament, Christmas, or the first day of school.

He was even being especially nice to Nicky, who has made no secret that he's not too thrilled about sleeping in their room alone over the next week.

As the time to leave came, Blake begrudgingly doled out hugs to brothers, sister and Mom. And off they went.

A few hours later Brett called and said that Blake's friend Massimo (really ... his soccer friend is named Massimo, just like in the movie Kicking and Screaming -- a favorite in our house)hadn't arrived yet and that Blake seemed like he was getting nervous.

The kids are staying in dorm rooms with refrigerators, sinks, meal cards and everything. Cell phones aren't allowed, so I hope he can figure out the calling card and the pay phone.

So over a couple more phone conversations with Brett -- after Massimo arrived and after Brett headed back down into the Valley -- my stomach started to feel queasy.

I start to run down the list of things in my head, reassuring myself we didn't forget anything. I'm hoping it doesn't get too cold because we only packed one pair of sweats -- that's all he had that fit him and our last-minute run to the Nike outlet was no help. And I'm hoping he's able to sleep. I'm praying his body can handle three soccer sessions a day. But most of all, I want him to feel comfortable and confident on his own ... for a week.


Earlier this week I took Blake to Walmart to get travel-sized toiletries.

"Why do they have to call it toiletries?" Blake asked. "I don't like that word."

His major task of the outing was determining which travel-sized shampoo looked most masculine. Pink and peach-colored bottles were out.

"These all look so girlie," he said.

I agreed, but didn't say anything.

"How about this ... it's blue," I asked him, pointing to what I think was Clariol Herbal Essence orchid and coconut milk shampoo.

"I guess," he says, continuing to look around. "How about this shower gel?"

I look at it and recognize its label -- the black and very masculine packaging of a gel called Axe. Blake got the full-size version of this a few weeks ago. Not until we had it home did I read the back of the bottle. My jaw dropped. This is a product heavily marketed to young men. Use this gel and the girls will be lining up at your shower. You wouldn't think you'd need to censor a shower gel for your 11-year-old son, but look at the "game" and the tagline this lovely product has on its web site.


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