Tracy Lee Curtis

Yes, no, maybe doesn’t tell the whole story

My son is a man of few words. Actually, he’s a boy of few words, who will no doubt turn into a man of few words. And drive his wife crazy.

And I’m part of his problem. Because while I’m asking the right questions, I’m asking the questions wrong. I’m asking, “How was the pool?” And he’s answering, “Fun.”

And then in my head I’m screaming, “Fun how? What made it fun? Who made it fun? What was the funniest part? And why?”

So I try to ask open-ended questions. Like “if an alien came down and took you back to his planet, how would you describe to a spaceship full of green people what exactly you did today?” Stuff like that.

And this was working. Until we started texting. And even when I texted, “Tell me all about the baseball game,” he would text back “Good.” And then I would crazily text back, “What was good? The game? The seats? The weather, the food, the fireworks, or the dance contest during the seventh-inning stretch?”

“Yep.”

So then I made a rule. If you don’t text back in complete sentences, you lose your phone for a week. This works by the way. Right up to the part where they text back, “The baseball game was good.”

I knew the camp letter would be my undoing. Last year’s letter was a list of things to send in his care package. A step up from the year before, when he wrote to tell us he would like a Welcome Home party once he returned.

So this year, in an effort to receive a detailed letter from him, I decided to help him out. I typed up a “jump start” letter – a nice letter to his parents, whereby he would just fill in the answers to 20 questions. It began like this ...

“Dear Mom and Dad - Wow! I can’t believe how lucky I am that you sent me to this ridiculously awesome camp! It was really hard to say goodbye to you, I’ll miss you so much. Mom, you’ve never looked better.”

And from there, he provided the critical information we parents are dying to have. What he does, what he eats, and if he sleeps. It was genius. He answered everything – the counselor he relates to most, the sport he enjoys least, how he likes his roommate – even what page he’s on in summer reading.

He still made a list of seven items for a care package. But on the back he wrote a juicy PS – completely unprompted – about the girls at the dance.

And when I picked him up I asked, “How was it?” And he answered, “Fun.” But in my head I knew every detail.

And really ... the fact that it was fun is all that matters.

Curtis: tcurtis@charlotteobserver.com

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