Our community holds an annual festival with carnival rides, games and music. This was the year they've waited for since we started attending. This year, we let the girls attend Friendship Festival with their friends without us.
We organized a carpool to get the crew there and back. All the parents agreed on the ground rules -- stick together, carry your own stuff, watch your purses, etc.
The first night they were so excited. They planned and primped and texted with friends. They discussed outfits and hair styles. They made sure they had money and their mega-passes. Different girls joined them as schedules allowed. No matter who was part of that night's crowd, the same things happened each time.
Every night the girls came home with dozens of stories. They relished their independence, even as they thought we were spying on them. More than once they asked if we had friends checking on them. The funny thing was that we didn't ask anyone to watch them, but we knew that if there were any real problems there would be so many other parents there who would lend a hand. It was part of the decision to let them go alone. Just as we would be happy to have helped any of the neighborhood kids, we knew their parents would help our girls if needed.
They learned a lot about how to have fun at the fair. Thursday and Friday they had a lot of fun. Saturday they went to the fair during the daytime, but came home early. It turned out that the fair wasn't as fun during the daytime. They went back after dark when the lights were shining and the music blaring. They came home laughing and telling stories.
As always, fireworks closed the festival. As we were heading home, the girls were already making plans for next year's festival -- without us of course.