She and I have developed this ballet of saying good-bye…There’s the moment when we are fine, then the next moment we are not fine. I’ll watch and wait for that moment, and whether I want to or not, I’ll know it’s time to go.
I never went to summer camp. But, before I was even her age, my sister and I began flying all over the country by ourselves to spend a couple of weeks each summer with our dad depending on where he was stationed. Those were trips that we still share stories about. Those experiences bonded us together as sisters, and were the adventures that summers are all about. So when my daughter decided she wanted to go to camp, it was a big step…but one that made sense.
When she applied last fall, it seemed so far away. Here we are 9 months later, and it’s looming for me tomorrow. The camp has prepared me for what to expect. I’ve gotten the low-down from my dear friend (thank you Lisa!) on what I really need to pack. We’ve ordered the extra bathing suits, purchased the sunscreen (and, that was its own stress this year). One last trip to Target tonight, and she will be ready.
I’ve thought about my exit strategy when I drop her off on Sunday. She and I have developed this ballet of saying good-bye. Because we’ve learned that we are fine, and then there’s that moment when we realize it’s time to say good-bye, and what’s next is that moment when we are not fine. I will watch and wait for that moment. It will come at some point after she’s had her head lice check, after I’ve met her counselor, and after I’ve made her bed.
When we both feel that moment, we will hug, and I will turn and leave. It will need to be swift, if she and I are going to hold it together. I’ll hold my husband’s hand as we walk back to the car. I’ll bite my lip. I’ll squeeze my younger daughter so hard she almost can’t breathe because it will be a hug tight enough for both girls. I’ll try to keep the tears from flowing until I get back to the car. But, as I walk away, I will look back, because I know when I look back, she won’t be crying. When I look back, I will see her smiling with her new friends – confident and excited for her adventure. Because that’s what summers are all about.