Last Thursday morning we dropped Grace off at sleep-away camp (is it sleepover camp, or sleep away camp, and is there a hyphen? I cannot figure this out) for 10 days. Her anxiety about going had been mounting for the week or two prior to July 21st, and I was expecting some tears, and then some fireworks, at bedtime that last night.
Instead, she was calm, and quiet, though visibly sad. We read several extra pages of Harry Potter, with Grace curled up close to me, rapt as we heard Hagrid’s story of his summer tangling with the giants. I stopped reading after our normal amount, she looked at me with saucer eyes, endlessly deep and shining with tears, and I didn’t even say a word before turning back to the book to finish the chapter.
Then I took her to her room, and tucked her in. I lay next to her on her narrow pink bed, as I do many nights. “Sing me your favorite song from camp, Mummy,” she asked. And so I did, whispering Christopher Robin to her, our heads leaning together, foreheads almost touching. She had to have been breathing my breath as I sang. I rubbed her back through her pajama top, singing the song twice through. When I was finished I heard her murmur, “I love you, Mummy.”
“It’s time for you to go now, isn’t it?” she lifted her head up and looked at me. I nodded. My own eyes were glassy. To miss ten days of this? What was I thinking? She swallowed and glanced over at her yellow and brown bears. Then, back to me. She nodded. “Okay.” She lay back down and twined her arms around my neck. “I’m going to miss you,” she started to cry softly and I felt her tears on my skin.
“I’m going to miss you too, Gracie.” I pressed a kiss to her forehead. She pulled back to look at me.
“Oh, yes. Grace,” I began, haltingly. “One thing to remember is that you will be at camp, having all of these new experiences, new friends, and adventures. Singing that song, for example!” A small giggle erupted out of her at that. “And I’ll be here in my ordinary life.”
“Mum!” Grace sat up suddenly. Her cheeks shone in the dusk of her room, dark except for the light that slanted in from the hall. Her voice was practically stern. “Your life is not ordinary. Your life is full of magic.”
Why, yes it is.