Spoiler Alert: I didn't cry.
Well, I'm not going to pretend that our weekend was about anything other than getting Cal off and settled into Richmond. Really it feels as if our whole last month has been about getting Cal off and settled into Richmond.
Saturday we shopped and dropped and rushed him from one friend to another to make sure he could fit every last one thing in. We still missed tons of friends and things, but that's what the weekends are for, right?
The pages stood out (even uniform-less) once we were in Richmond. Much as I imagine college freshman orientation looks like. We ran into a family in Starbucks and we had a family follow us to the capitol. After that, the handshakes began. I have no, well almost no, recollection of any of the Senate staff we met yesterday. But everyone was so nice and so happy to see us! We ate lunch first (let's face it, Cal could barely eat) and met two families whose kids were from a city five HOURS away. Our 90 miles seems pretty manageable, huh?
After we met Cal's roommate, we dived into groups and filed into the Senate Chamber for orientation. The pages sat in Member's chairs and the parents sat around the perimeter of the room.
Okay, I didn't cry, (and I'm a crier...we should have that well established by now), but I for sure got teary-eyed at this part. It just felt so momentous. I honestly still can't believe that Cal is going to have the opportunity to be part of this amazing experience. He'll be on the floor when the laws of our state are being hashed out and to see first hand what goes into running our Commonwealth. Aside from that, it'll be such an amazing, growing up experience for him. We went over the handbook and touched on all of the rules (!) and guidelines of the program. The Clerk of the Senate led the day, and she's just what you'd imagine what a warm but strict grandmother should be. I can easily imagine her taking a senator to task as one of the pages. She's very proud of how tightly her ship is run and had many disparaging things to say about the loosey-goosey House program. Ahem.
Accompanying her is the man who runs the page program specifically. Picture Stanley Tucci, from looks to mannerisms, in The Devil Wears Prada. He was strict too (yelling at the parents when we didn't line up quickly enough!), but his humor during the orientation told the tale clearly enough: it'll be strict, but it'll be a lot of fun too.
After a quick tour of the Page room (where the kids hang out between assignments) and where we pick them up each Friday, we headed to the hotel to check in. The kids are housed on one floor with a pair of room parents. They were delightful. I know I was reassured after meeting them, and I feel certain Cal will get comfortable with them pretty sharpish. Cal and his roommate seemed quick to accommodate each other about bed choices and shower times, and after a last chat (and phone and email exchange) we took Cal out for one last family dinner.
I'm glad we got some last minute family time together (and I'm glad he got to watch the end of the Chargers game too). He'd barely eaten at lunch, so getting some food in him was a good thing. I'm not sure how much of those final "You'll do greats," he actually heard, but I hope some of it sinks in.
And then it was good-bye. We got him a little unpacked (his roommate is NEAT, so we may have a Felix & Oscar situation on our hands!), and Neel and I headed out. I didn't cry. I felt great, actually. I think it's because I feel so completely positive about everything he's going to be doing.
And he's uniformed and at work right now. Two days of training (including etiquette training!) and the session starts on January 8th. It's a big week, with our inauguration on Saturday. After that, the fun really begins. As if it hasn't already.