Tomorrow Miss Pink leaves for camp.
This is not the first time she's been away from home--she's been to several two-night Girl Scout camping adventures without me, and last week she stayed at her cousins' in another state for four nights before seeing us. For some reason, though, this feels different for me.
I've never been a clingy mother. Mostly because Miss Pink wouldn't let me be one. On her first day of kindergarten, she was so excited that not only were we there before any of the other kids, but we were also there before the teacher. The student teacher was there, and she showed Miss P her seat and gave her something to play with. I hovered in the background, holding Mr. Blue, wondering what my role was. Shouldn't I be at least misty-eyed that my first-born baby was starting kindergarten?
I thought I'd stay until some other kids and parents--or at least the teacher--arrived. But Miss Pink had other ideas. Without looking up she said, "You can go, Mom."
"Really? You're sure you want me to go? Because I could stay a little--"
"No, I'm fine. You can go."
At least she let me hug her! I left, feeling a little confused, but not distraught. I knew she'd be fine--after all, she'd told me so herself--and she was.
It's not that she's unattached to us (somehow I feel I need to add that disclaimer--but is it only to protest that I'm not a bad mother?) When we're together, we snuggle and giggle and talk about all kinds of things. I'm pretty sure she tells me all her secrets (the child has a transparent face, like me and her father, thank goodness). It's just that when she's ready to go, she's ready. Last year she wasn't ready for camp. This year, she says she is.
And I believe her. I just don't know if I am. Because before I know it, she's going to be ready to fly farther away, to places I've never been. And all I can do is promise that she can always come home until she's ready to fly again.
Last week, Justin and I called her on her second night away. She talked to us in a distracted way ("What are you doing?" "Talking to you." *giggle*) and after about five minutes, she said very politely, "Mom and Dad, could you please hang up now, 'cause I really want to go play." What could we say but "Okay, bye, we love you!" as fast as we could before she hung up?
Even when we arrived, she was still engrossed with her cousin and the eight kittens the girls had been playing with all week. Yet when we came home, I hugged her before bedtime and told her I'd missed her. She hugged me back and whispered, "I was a tiny bit homesick." Well, you certainly fooled me, kiddo, but that's good to know.
Sometimes I think that parenting is all about spending the first years of our children's' lives creating a safe place so they will feel secure, yet the irony is that the purpose of the security is to allow them to develop an independent spirit so they can venture out into the world without us. As parents, our job is to work ourselves out of a job. Miss Pink may be making this task a little too easy for my taste, but I know she still needs me to be here when she returns to tell me all about her adventures.