at once

Dropping Katie off at camp – God help me

*

I’m not ready to write about dropping my baby girl off at sleep-away camp. I just can’t do it yet. What I can tell you is that I have never been more proud of her – for knowing herself, for following her gut, for handling it all exactly the way that she needed to handle it. Which in the end, was far better than her Mama.

Since we’d headed North to drop her off, we decided to just keep going and spend a couple of nights at our favorite spot in Maine. It was lovely. It was weird. I felt like I was missing my left arm.

Shopping around town without my little style critic was just wrong. I found myself missing her more at every stop. Hell, I even missed her complaining that she was bored and asking me to buy everything in sight. Go figure.

Since I couldn’t spend time shopping with her, I spent most of it shopping for her. I walked through town compiling her care package – a heart-shaped rock from the beach, sparkly tattoo pens, nail polishes in various neon colors, a rainbow dyed sweatshirt, a sailor’s rope bracelet, a whoopee cushion. I conjured an image of her giggling with her bunkmates as they placed the whoopee cushion on the seat of some poor, unsuspecting counselor, then ran for the hills. I prayed that she’d made friends to run and giggle with.

Meanwhile, Brooke was out of sorts. Happy as a clam at the beach on day one, by day two it no longer held her interest and she was simply ready to go home. Before we left, we spent a little time at the pool. And there we were when she shivered and demanded of no one in particular, “I need a towel!”

We’ve been working hard on encouraging her independence, so I pointed to the young man near the entrance who handed out the towels. “Brooke,” I said pointing at him, “you can go ask that man for a towel.”

She looked in the direction I was pointing, then back at me. “Which man?” she asked.

“The man at the little desk, baby,” I said. “The one near that big red basket of towels.”

She took a few steps toward him, then stopped.

“Where is the man?” she asked.

I took a couple of steps to meet her, then pointed again. He was only about three yards in front of her, with no one else in the way, but his presence just wasn’t registering.

Still pointing to him, I described his clothing. “See him there, honey? In the white shirt and blue shorts?”

She pointed at him now and followed her own finger for a few steps, then stopped abruptly and turned back to me.

“What do I say again?” she asked.

“Just say, ‘Excuse me, sir, may I have a towel please?” I answered.

She turned back to him, armed and ready.

“Excuse me, sir …” she began.

Before she could finish the sentence, the young man had unceremoniously thrust a towel into her chest. Despite the fact that there was no one else around them, his gaze was fixed in the exact opposite direction.

As she took the towel from him, she finished her sentence, determined to see her task through. “… may I have a towel please?”

He said nothing.

She turned and walked away holding her towel.

If she had noticed the awkwardness in their interaction, she did nothing to show it.

If he had noticed the awkwardness in their interaction, he did nothing to show it.

I wondered if on any level, they’d recognized something in one another.

My girl returned with her towel, triumphant. And of all the emotions running through me in that moment, the only one I let slip was pride.

~

In town, feeding Doc, the horse

Oh my God, no, you may not pick the horse’s nose, Brooke.

Much better

*

16 thoughts on “at once

  1. Independence day for both of your girls. ❀
    And again, for fear of saying the right thing at the wrong time…I'll just say this. I'm proud of all of you this weekend.

  2. The emotions are too strong. I’ll comment on the pictures…So beautiful! And I laughed at the almost nosepicking on the horse.

  3. Oof. I get this. But I love that she persevered and accomplished her goal regardless. And I’m sorry that your left arm is missing. I suspect it’s having a really good time away, though. And when it returns, you’ll feel whole again. xo

  4. This is a huge summer for you as a mama… Both your lovely girls are growing up so fast. Good for you for encouraging them both to do it. Hard though. So hard. *hang in there*!

  5. That horse might have appreciated a good booger pickin’. . . hooves are HORRIBLE for nose picking.

  6. Every stroke of independence swells my heart with pride and breaks it just a little to know that my sweet (almost 14) baby is making her way towards a life of her own. Good job Mom πŸ™‚

  7. That independence thing is just killer, especially as I am so used to doing things FOR Jake for sooo much longer than I did for his brother. Realizing he is capable and then pushing him forward down that path… big steps. Good for Brooke, and thanks for the reminder to do it!

  8. I love those pics of Brooke! Your girls are expanding in their own ways right now and you are too, as painful as it is missing your big girl. I can’t wait to hear about her time at camp!

  9. This growing up stuff is good and bad, good because it moves our babies away from us and into the world they must deal with to be sucessful, and bad, because it moves our babies into the world they must deal with to be sucessful.
    Love you,
    Dad

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