It has to do with my oldest daughter, Katie . . . and a word we now refer to as the new "4 letter word" in our house . . . CAMP. As I gather my thoughts to sit and write the story of our experience - only now do I feel the anxiety lowering, the blood pressure has returned to a manageable level, and I am actually taking full, deep breaths in and out.
Sometimes being a parent is rough . . .
My oldest daughter signed up for Girl Scout camp this summer.
From the beginning, I didn't feel good about it. And why would I? I am certain that in some past life of mine, I was a princess (or perhaps even a Queen). I am the girl who insists we only sleep in hotels with "inside doors", and five minutes outside in temps greater than 85 degrees is pure torture - unless I am in a swimming suit and holding an iced beverage. "Roughing it" is having to paint my own nails, and the word "CAMP", to me, has always been a 4 letter word (like . . . a BAD 4 letter word.)
But, she wanted to go! Invited by a dear friend of hers, she signed up to join in 5 nights and 6 days of camping fun, Girl Scout style. There would be wonderful learning opportunities of cooking in cast iron pans, swimming, bonfire songs learned, laughter, crafts, hikes, and all the other things that I have read are quite enjoyable. And because it was something she really wanted to do, I tried to put all my worries and anti-camping feelings to the side, and did anything I needed to do to help her in her quest.
We filled out the forms, signed all the necessary paperwork, and packed for the masses. . .she had everything she needed - including a battery operated fan, with plenty of extra batteries along (just in case.) I checked, double checked, and triple checked the list . . . and she was set.
Off on a wonderful adventure!
Oh, Lord . . . help us.
She was so excited on the way there. Check her out in the car, as we pulled up to the campgrounds . . .
That is one excited girl! She was ready, and even I was excited for her. Truly. I was.
Walking through the grounds to her camp location - she was thrilled. Check out that smile!
We knew she was going to be sleeping in "Tabins" (that is what the GS information packet called them.) Of course, I had no idea what a "tabin" was - and in my mind, thought it would be some sort of a "cabin like" room - perhaps with a fan, or a screen door to enter through.
When we turned the corner and saw the TENTS (seriously, these are TENTS!), my mouth dropped open - and only after the fear of 100 camping insects flying into my mouth did I finally shut it.
Here is another angle . . .
Yep, she stayed in one of those.
For 2 nights.
Yes, two nights.
You may recall that earlier in this post, I said she signed up for 6 days and 5 nights of camping fun.
It turns out that 2 nights away from home + three wolf spiders (which I understand now are about the size of the palm of my hand) + 72 mosquito and bug bites (yes, we counted them) + several hours of a severe thunderstorm threat + multiple tornado watches and warnings + hours in the stinky hot shower building hiding from said tornado watches and warnings + loads of mud + sticky heat = just enough of a camping experience as my beloved Katie needed.
And I couldn't be prouder of her.
She was ready to come home just hours after we dropped her off (I think finding that very first wolf spider on her sleeping bag started the panic). She hung through the first night, but day two brought on a whole new level of homesickness that even I wasn't prepared for. The severe weather was just about all she could handle. And after a phone call with her that second evening, I knew that this was not about my almost 12 year old being a spoiled kid who 'wasn't having fun' . . . this was about my 11 year old being completely out of her element, being scared (which is an awful feeling at any age), missing her home with her whole soul, and feeling as if she was out of control as to what was happening to her.
And I get it. I completely and totally get it.
So, early in the morning of day 3 (after surviving the night of horrible weather and worry), this Mama hopped in the car and took the short hour long drive to pick up her baby girl. I would have done it the night before, too, if the eye of the storm wasn't completely covering the interstate I needed to take to get to her.
She squeezed my hand and hugged my arm the whole way home, as she kept telling me, "Mommy, I missed you so much. I just couldn't do it, Mom. I am not a camper. I missed you SO much."
Her dear friend Amelia, who I have to say is one of the coolest and most awesome kids I've ever met, stayed at camp. Having experienced camp three times before, I think she was able to adapt to her surroundings much better than Katie did.
As I returned home with my daughter, I continued to ask myself if I made the right choice - going to pick her up. Did I jump in too quickly to get her? Should I have insisted she stay the whole time? Was I wrong to give her the 'out', and not make her follow through with her commitment to the camp? Have I ruined my daughter for life? (Don't we, as parents, often wonder if we are ruining our kids, or is it just me?) Here we are, one day after her return home, and I am still asking myself these questions.
But then, it hit me . . . Camping is NOT for everyone. (Not for me, and now we know - not for her, either.) And that is O.K..
I have survived being a non-camper my whole life. I have survived just fine. I still have the greatest appreciation for the land we live on. I can find beauty in the smallest blade of grass (seriously . . . I can), and love nothing more than sitting under a tree reading a good book with the happy sounds of birds chirping all around me. (Yes, maybe I am a Disney Princess.) I appreciate a gorgeous sunset just as much as the guy next to me, and will always remove a ladybug from our home with the gentlest of hands.
But I can admit it, I am not a girl of simple ways. Call me high-maintenance - or whatever it may be - but I need air-conditioning, a blow dryer, concealer for my dark circles, mascara, and an ice cube in my glass of water (a whole bunch of ice cubes in my glass of water, actually.) I need daily showers with a loofah sponge and moisturizers, and I am not afraid to admit it. I love Starbucks coffee, and think it tastes even better when made by a barista at the store. I like to get manicures and pedicures, and think the best thing in the world is when my gray hair gets covered with brown hair dye.
Yes, that is me.
And there is nothing wrong with it.
And there is nothing wrong with my Katie, either.
I am so proud of her for TRYING. For signing up, for packing, for looking forward to the adventure with such excitement. I am also so proud of her for recognizing that she was NOT enjoying it - that it was not what she thought it would be, and for knowing that continuing through would not only make herself miserable, but would possibly ruin it for those around her. I am proud of her for saying, "Hey - I am SCARED."
In my book, it takes a pretty strong person to say they are afraid.
Today, each time Katie walked into a room I was in, she came to me and hugged me tight.
"Thank you, Mom," she'd say. Each and every time.
|Moments after picking her up!|
The honor . . . it is all mine.
Wishing you and yours great peace, my friends. Today, and always.