For the rest of the family, Christmas came in December. But for the Naturalist, it came on sunday, when I dropped her off at Sea World Camp. One week, 345345345 animals, no parents. In short, heaven.
It wasn’t too long ago when, asked about where her paradise is, she said, “Olive Garden”. Apparently, at 5, there is nothing better than bread sticks with alfredo dipping sauce. But that was when we lived in Las Vegas, and her exposure to nature and animals was rather limited. Once we moved to Colorado, her interest into the natural world blossomed. Jeff Corwin became her idol, and Animal Planet became her obsession. When I look back, I think immersing herself in nature was a soothing and much needed break from the stresses of daily school pressure.
Fast forward to last year, when we visited Sea World and discovered their resident camp program. She became a girl on a mission to get herself there. She worked hard all year to earn her share of the cost. And now, she’s there. I can send her emails, but other than that we are incommunicado until next friday. Here, I was so worried about HER missing ME for that long, I didn’t consider how much I would miss HER. I started missing her before we began the drive there. And it only intensified by the time I pulled into the parking lot. She, however, didn’t think twice about trading in her family for a bunch of 11 year old girls, some camp counselors, and Shamu.
I hadn’t even parked the car before she’d jumped out with her luggage.
“Wait! Wait! Don’t you need a goodbye hug from your mom? Don’t you need me to hold your hand and tell you everything will be OK while you hang back and tell me how nervous you are and how you wish I could stay with you in your dorm room?!”
“Seriously. Aren’t you supposed to be telling me how much you’ll miss me and how I’m the best mom in the world and how you appreciate everything I’ve ever done for you and how if only I could stay with you in your dorm room everything would be better?! WHERE ARE THE TEARS YOUNG LADY!!!!”
“So you’re just going to leave me here all by myself? For a WEEK? How will I get through it? Are you sure I can’t just come stay with you? Positive? Can I just get one last hug? Are you sure I can do this? For a WEEK? What if I need to tell you something? Who will keep me company? I don’t know if I can do this!”
She indulged me long enough to give me a kiss, tell me to put my big girl panties on, and snap out of it. Feeling nearly hysterical, I left her laughing and bonding with the girl who brought “Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul” book. The Golfer (who was missing her as much as I was), The Toddler (who just wanted to eat) and I drowned our sorrow over some Jack in the Box.
It was a good burger & shake (mmm, blackberry!), but we still really miss her a lot. Sigh.
Filed under: The Naturalist |