Z: Koss was really stressed about going to fifth-grade camp this week. How about you?
She: Definitely. My sweet boy went off to camp for the week, his first extended trip away from us. It made me sad.
Z: Oh, you moms.
She: You weren’t sad?
Z: Me? Don’t be silly. I manned up.
Z: Absolutely. I mean — I had a couple of dreams where he got separated from his hiking group, was lost in the forest for a week, and was left sobbing while eating grubs under a pine tree as the coyotes circled — but I wasn’t stressed.
She: But …
Z: And then I also had some thoughts that this is what it will be like when he goes off to college, and then you’ll probably die in some horrible bathtub accident, and I’ll be left old and alone and untethered, and I started thinking I better get some more friends and maybe a couple of hobbies.
She: You …
Z: But stressed? No, not at all. Don’t be ridiculous. Not like you.
She: I saw my whole life flash before me when I waved goodbye.
Z: See? You’re completely over-dramatic.
She: I remembered when I started kindergarten … when I went off to sixth-grade camp … when my parents went to Tahiti and left us with the Mulders … when I babysat my sister for the first time and she did a flip through the front door … when I went off to college … when Koss started kindergarten … then when he had his first sleepover.
Z: Were you waving goodbye for the whole day?
She: I had flashforwards, too, like when Koss gets his first girlfriend and I have to kill her … when his voice starts changing … when he learns to drive a car … then when Koss goes off to college and I’m a complete wreck.
Z: For all that, I think we actually did pretty well while he was gone. Fifth-grade camp is, after all, all about us.
She: I was impressed by us.
Z: I pictured a deathly quiet first dinner, where I would say, “Wow. I guess we really don’t have anything to say to each other.”
She: Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad. You’re even mildly entertaining.
Z: And we managed to go to a movie every night.
She: It was weird to see movies that don’t star Dwayne Johnson or Jackie Chan. The pacing is very different.
Z: A Single Man was beautiful, and Jeff Bridges gave a killer performance in Crazy Heart, but I’m still not sure if I loved them or if I wanted to take a nap.
She: It takes some recalibrating. But it wasn’t all movies and dinner. We also wrote the boy some letters.
Z: I sent him a fax. I love that he went to a camp so Old School that you could send him a fax.
She: I sent him 12 letters. How many faxes did you send?
Z: This isn’t a competition.
She: Clearly less than two. I can see why you’ll be old and alone after my bathtub accident — which is a ridiculous fantasy, by the way. When do I ever have time to take a bath?
Z: If you spent less time waving goodbye, you’d have more time for baths.
She: I should have taken some long baths while Koss was gone. Why didn’t you draw me a bath? And if you do draw me a bath does that mean you’re trying to kill me?
Z: Not until after I have more friends and some hobbies. If I bring home a model train set, be afraid.
She: The best thing is that even though he was totally stressed about it, it turns out that he had a great time.
She: He painted his face with rocks, saw wild turkeys, took night hikes, got bead badges, and bonded with his whole fifth-grade class.
Z: Yeah, he had a great time. And we weren’t so bad ourselves.
She: Makes me think we should look into a sleep-away summer camp. In five years or so, when I’m old enough to handle it.
Z: Someday, we might even be able to deal with the whole empty nest thing. As long as he stays away from coyotes, and you stay out of the bathtub.
She: Yes, dear.
— How do you feel when your chicks leave the nest? Tell She and Z by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.