Late one night, I received the following text messages: “I hate this camp…I want to go home….I miss you”
My heart sunk! I had abandoned my youngest child in the small Adriatic town of Lido di Jesolo at AC Milan Soccer Camp. No matter that all spring he had begged me to send him to this camp; at that moment, I felt like the worst mother in the world. My first inclination was to ‘rescue my son.’ Instead, I lay in bed practicing my yoga breathing for a couple of hours until the intense desire to save my kid subsided!
Ninja Son was crazy to play soccer and attending the incredible AC Milan Soccer was a dream come true. He did not care that the main language was Italian; he realized that the Italian boys would be very good players as they were born with a soccer ball; he knew he would be sleeping with the other campers in a local hotel; he was excited to play soccer twice a day; and he went with the most positive attitude a young person could possible have.
He quickly met a large group of Russian boys who were also very good and very arrogant; he learned that there were no English speaking roommates; he met dedicated AC Milan councilors named Giancarlo, Filippo and Pierino; he followed a strict schedule; he had stringent uniform requirements; he participated in intense training sessions; and he learned that in the real world, mom would not always be there to cushion difficult times, rather he had to hold his head high and keep trying even when he felt like giving up.
The morning after the A-Bomb Text, I wrote back my Ninja Mom’s “You can do it!” motivational text, which was followed by this text: ”You do not know what happened last night.” I panicked fearing the worst. I had just heard news of a Taiwanese teenager who died after playing 40 hours of an on-line game; my mind immediately wandered to dark areas. I broke down and called him to hear that his Italian roommate started throwing pillows at him. I told him that this is what boys do and asked him why he did not throw them back at him? It was at that moment I realized that he was learning a lot more than just soccer! (And yes, over protective mothers who are reading this….the councilors were dealing with it.)
Midday, a new text came in - “Hi mom I’m hanging on having a good day….Mom my friend found my hat yes.” Early the final morning, another text came in, “Mom be at the field at 9:45 kapish”
AC Milano Camp was a wonderful learning experience. My son ‘s soccer greatly improved, he learned how to swear in Italian and Russian, he mastered texting; and most importantly, he learned about the “Real World’.
Ninja Mom learned too! By not ‘saving him’, I gifted him with COPING SKILLS, something that we parents in 2012 are not very good at developing in our children young and old. We like to FIX thing for our kids and this is a disservice to them!
3rd Entry in the Summer Travel Series.