Tucker left this morning for Outdoor Ed, the rite of passage for sixth graders. And so my heart will live outside my body for the next three days.
I don't think I'm an overprotective mom, and it's not like it's his first time away from home. But there's something about watching him blend in with all the other baseball hats as they get on the bus that makes me feel the passage of time. And also a visceral feeling that could be called "hopelessly out of control."
As we double checked his packing list last night, the only thing we hadn't crossed off was "disposable camera," which was also listed with the phrase, Highly Recommended. So we left early this morning to swing by the grocery store and grab this one last thing. I was going back and forth over whether it was really a necessary item, weighed against the ticking clock of the morning.
"Buddy, do you want to take one with you?"
"Yes, because I want to show you everything when I get home."
He spoke as if he'd show us immediately.
I said, "Well, you don't have the images right away with a disposable camera. It's kind of a process."
He looked at me blankly.
"The camera stores the images until you get the film developed."
Blank stare. Ever so slight furrowing of the brow. I was speaking a language he doesn't comprehend.
At which point his blank stare prompted made me realize that I’m actually not sure where one sends 'film' these days.
"So, let me get this straight. You take a picture, but you can't see it?"
"Not right away, no."
"What do you have to wait for?"
"For it to be developed into a picture."
"And the camera… just… holds on to it? Until it becomes a picture?"
I laughed at this gap in our communication. Again, that awareness of the passage of time.
"Yes, that's kind of how it works. But the camera doesn't develop the photo. A laboratory does."
That was it, the last straw. He was picturing white coats and white gloves and scientists with protective eyewear. Which is maybe how it is now with ancient technology, I suppose. I could see him dismissing me.
To top it all off, when we arrived at the store and he asked the clerk for a disposable camera, the guy said, "Um, dude. We don't carry those. We haven't. For a long time. Like, a l-o-n-g time."
Well, then. I'm not sure that emphasis was necessary.
Tuck will have to use an even more vintage technology called his photographic memory.
Pay attention, kiddo. The memories will have to live in your heart.
(And I'm not as old as you think I am.)