The party preparations began on Friday with a trip to the grocery store, list in hand, and 4 young helpers giddy at the foody possibilities. We came home and my sous chefs uniformed up and we began the cookapalooza.
Saturday morning we awoke to all of the little people asking, "Pawty? Pawty time?" Not yet, little people. The big people won't be here until tonight.
And the race was on. Clean house. Feed kids. Sweep up all their crumbs. Clean house again. Feed kids. Sweep up all their crumbs. Discuss utilization of an off-site babysitter for the next party. Clean the house again.
And then they came. About 15 of them. Big kids. BIG BIG kids to my little people.
They filled up my whole house. We ate a huge dinner with plates in hand, seats on the floor, piled up on couches, all within earshot.
I had an experience 6 years ago that gave me the feeling of being a parent. It's called BIRTHING A BABY. However, 6 years before that, my pre-parental instincts kicked in on a much different scale.
I became a camp director for a gaggle of college students that for a short 2 1/2 months each year, became my "kids". Ultimately, I was the one responsible for them and that weighed heavily. I prayed for them fiercely. I trained them as best I knew how. I laughed hysterically at their antics. I disciplined poorly. I cried weekly. And I loved them all.
I had been one of those "kids" for a couple of summers myself. I knew the life-changing impact one summer could have and I wanted to bear witness to that change in the lives of college kids.
As my official role as PARENT WHO HAS BIRTHED AN ACTUAL BABY came about, I knew it was time to swap roles and take on parenting the bloodline full-time. And so I did.
But I could not leave the gaggle behind. Whenever I hear of their arrival to the camp each year, the same feelings creep up as they used to 6, 7, 8 years ago. The anticipation. The nervousness. The knowledge of what's to come. The excitement of knowing these kids would drive back over the causeway at the end of July changed forever.
I know I did.
And so, as the mom who can never leave the "kids" alone, I had them over for dinner just 2 days after they arrived. They needed some basic food groups outside of the cafeteria, and I felt it my job to provide.
What I didn't expect was that in the short time they were here, I learned some important lessons from them.
1. These are the quality, integrity-filled people I want my kids to be around. All the time.
2. I want my BIRTHED kids to have the deep spiritual experiences these college kids have had and will have as they serve this summer.
3. Camp Counselor feet are still just as nasty as they were back in '98.
4. Their average age was 20. Some younger. I could officially be their legitimate parent.
5. In conclusion, I am old. So very very old.
But I am proud. Proud of a lineage, per say, that I was a part of and that continues today. New leadership. New kids. Same location. Same God.