earlier sunsets

It is all coming to an end now. The weather is refreshingly not scorching and I even detected a slight dry unhumid breeze the other day. I got away with an overnight with the windows open earlier this week. The kids won't have to be subjected to shivering beneath blankets in our bedroom for storytime much longer.

Last week, Caroline had to say goodbye to her favorite counselor Meaghan. I didn't realize it was her last day until the day of the last day, which is another way to say that not only had Caroline not prepared a card or picture for her, but I was woefully unprepared for the tears that came at 4:20pm. Watching my baby koala bearing someone I barely knew, well that was new. It wasn't bad, in fact, it was refreshing. Here was a connection that my girl had made all on her own, not in a forced "this is your teacher" or "this is your babysitter" way. Her and Meaghan seemed to share a connection and nothing was consoling her as I strapped her into the car. I dove into my wallet to retrieve a business card for this blog and raced to the bus trying to catch it before it pulled away. Meaghan had gone to take a child to the restroom and when she came back, we handed her that card and Caroline clung to her one last time. My heart dropped as the bus drove away and though I didn't really know Meaghan, I cried too. A single tear, dripped right down to my chin and stained my pants. Caroline reached her arms out the window and called for her, over and over. We got through it. We hit up a favorite dinner spot and not only did the kids behave and eat all their dinner, but the tears were gone, replaced by smiles.

Meaghan returned to the bus stop one afternoon this week to see Caroline. She had written to me and I had written back, thanking her from the bottom of my soul for being such a warm and positive presence in Caroline's life this summer. I wanted her to know she had made a difference, that she had truly made a lasting impression on my daughter. I could tell she didn't want to say goodbye either and part of me felt intrusive, sharing that sweet moment with them. Meaghan leaves for the University of Michigan later this week. So far away.

This week is bittersweet. She made it through her first summer at camp, but really it was us who made it. She lived it, loved it, breathed it, sung the heck out of it, swam it, dared to do the previously impossible, and ate so many red popsicles I thought the skin around her mouth would be permanently four shades darker. We trusted, we pulled details out, teased out friends names, celebrated sucesses, learn those songs to sing with her, and avoided saying awesome. I didn't know every detail of her day, what she had eaten, if she had drunk enough water, or if she had reapplied her sunscreen enough.

Earlier this week, I scolded her for not wearing her swim shirt all summer. Each day it went to camp and each day it came home dry and folded at the bottom of her bag. I would remind her at least twice a week to wear her shirt, "slip, slap, slop." This week she has worn it all but one day. Suddenly, the zippered bag she keeps her swim stuff in was heavier. She had the audacity in that moment to tell me, "I didn't know it was there," but once I got over her statement I realized something else. I had reminded her, she had listened, and she had chosen to wear it. The End.

Caroline has had an amazing summer and I know she will have many more amazing summers at this little slice of kid heaven in her backyard. It has prepared her for the bus, for meeting new friends, and for being herself, whatever kind of whacky kid she ends up being. I am so proud of her and all her accomplishments, but most proud of Steve and I for giving her this experience, for going with it every step of the way, for not questioning (see "I have to wear Marroon and Green tomorrrow"), and for truly believing that she could do it. She could do it all along. We just didn't know it yet.


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