He's sitting out there in the living room right now, staring at his video game, pausing every so often for a quick word of encouragement or direction to his buddy who is equally engrossed. I haven't seen my son for a week, and now I am still not seeing him. There was a temptation to stomp in there and turn off the TV, forcing him to deal with me and the five days that he has been away.
But that's not really the issue. He gave me a hug when I came in the door, and for a moment I wasn't sure if he would let go. He told me that he had missed me while he had his face buried in my side. It was sincere. I don't doubt his love. I could hear it in his voice every night that he called from camp. I could see it in his eyes when I opened the door this afternoon.
I also heard him grow as the week went by. On the first night, he sounded lonely and desperate. The second night sounded a little more resigned. By the third night he was starting to settle in, and the last night his voice was calm and assured. He was still a little sad, but he was more focused on the things that he had learned and seen and done. When that phone call was over, my wife and I gave each other a high-five and did the happy dance, celebrating our mad parenting skills.
We didn't always feel that way. We spent the early part of the week feeling as lost and lonely as our ten-year-old son. As it turns out, time and space was all we really needed. Will he be packing his bags and going on the road again anytime soon? Probably not, but it's nice to know that he could, if he really wanted to. Somewhere they let you play video games.