Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer camp overnight causes separation anxiety

You know those kids who scream when their parent is out of site? Our girls never went through that stage. When they were very young they would get upset when we left, but mostly because we weren't taking them with us.

The first year the girls went to Girl Scout camp, they were not able to spend the night due to their age. The next year they wanted to make sure they'd be able to sleep out with the big girls. When I dropped off the girls that morning they hesitated a bit as they unloaded their stuff. They hugged me a bit longer and made me promise we'd be near a phone just in case they needed to talk to us. They didn't call, but we were ready. The next day they came home tired, bug-bitten and happy.

This year the girls packed their stuff by themselves. They showed me what was in their bags, but it was more of a courtesy than an inspection. When we got to camp, they jumped out with their stuff and didn't even look back.

The camp counselor laughed as I waved and said, "By girls. Be careful. I'll miss you." They didn't even turn around. I told the counselor that I was glad they were so excited, but it would have been nice if they had waved back. I laughed and got into the car.

I realize we're lucky that the girls don't have separation anxiety. They are strong, independent girls with a built-in safety net. As long as they are together, they feel they can conquer the world.

Still, I am having a hard time tonight. It's the parenting paradox. On the one hand we want to raise independent, self-sufficient children. On the other hand, we're not ready when we realize they are on their way.

Tomorrow we'll pick-up the girls, hear their stories and marvel at how much they've changed since last year's camp sleepover. They will talk about how much they can't wait until next year's sleepover. Me? I'll be listening, encouraging them to tell more stories and hoping that next year doesn't come too soon. I need to adjust to this new maturity before they take another leap.

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