We’re down a kid.
Early this morning Emma went off for a week of 4-H camp. Her third year, but her first year at *intermediate* camp. Big stuff. More freedom. Choosing her “workshops and crafts”. A dance. I’ll be curious to hear which of the rumors that have been swirling through these girls’ minds, flopped on beds late at night, are true. And which are the talk of junior campers longing for the big time.
She leaves me with hugs, but totally ready to go. I comfort myself by saying it’s a sign that I’ve done a good job. Her ability to hug and walk away with confidence and excitement. No nerves. No worries. I tell myself her ability to “be fine” without me, has nothing whatsoever to do with me.
Dan dropped her off this year. And then called me on his way to work. She forgot a few things. Could we drop them off before lunch.
So we pile in the car, swing through the store for the forgotten things. Tuck a few extra dollars for the snack bar, some postage stamps, that thing she forgot, in a polka dotted envelope and scribble her name on the front.
We arrive on the strike of noon. It’s quiet. So we just leave her things inside.
As we’re pulling away from the mess hall, we hear singing in the woods. Top of their lungs, loud as they can singing. I pull out slowly, hoping we’ll get one quick glimpse of her before leaving. She rounds the corner, sees our car and waves. Her sisters point and shout that they’ve spotted her in the crowd, like she’s some fox we’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of as it slips across the road. I roll down my window and she runs over. Her hair in fancy braids. Braids that weren’t done by me. She looks beautiful. And old.
I tell her where we left her things and she races off to get back in line with her tribe.
And we slip out the gravel road.
And Birdy cries. And doesn’t understand why we’ve left her. And wants to go back. Wants to be with her.
And I just nod my head.