DEAR HARRIETTE: My 9-year-old daughter is going to sleepaway camp for the first time this summer, and I am a basket of nerves. She is quite independent for her age, and we have gotten excellent reports about the camp. I’m not worried about her safety. I just know how much I’m going to miss her. The most time we have spent apart from each other is a week when I had to go on a trip for work. The camp allows parents to call children only once a week. How can I stay calm when I am going to be separated from my baby for two whole weeks? I’m already driving my husband crazy just thinking about it. -- Separation Anxiety, Alexandria, Virginia
DEAR SEPARATION ANXIETY: Most camps allow parents to send items to children during their stay. You can spend some of your time planning fun gifts to send. Don’t go overboard, though. This is your daughter’s time to begin to explore her independence within a safe environment. You need to trust that she will be OK.
Focus on yourself and tasks you want to accomplish at home and at work. Include your husband as a top priority! What are some of the things that you two enjoy doing but rarely have the time for anymore? Dinner dates? Visits with friends? Road trips? Breakfast in bed on the weekend? Think of ways that you can grow closer to your husband during this two-week period. If you two start enjoying each other’s company more, the time will zip by, and your daughter will be back before you know it!
DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend of mine is retiring from more than 30 years on the job. It was his choice to retire. He said he wanted to leave while they still wanted him to stay rather than staying beyond his welcome. He seems ready on one hand, but sad on the other. He is a teacher, and I know he is going to miss interacting with his students on a daily basis. I want to do something special for him after he retires, but he is a private person. What can I suggest that won’t seem like an imposition? We have been friends for a long time, but this is a new situation. -- Retiring, Scarsdale, New York
DEAR RETIRING: Think about what your friend enjoys. If going to fun restaurants is his style, invite him to go with you to a place that may be a new discovery for him. Look in the local newspaper as well as those in New York City to find out about cultural events going on each week and weekend. Often, these activities are free to the public.
In addition to outings, you can simply call to touch base. Check in to see how he’s doing, and ask occasionally if he would like to hang out. He must get acclimated to his new life and figure out a rhythm that works for him. You can support that, but ultimately it is his responsibility to learn how to fill his time differently.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)