Alice at the door


By Melody Lima


I ask my daughter if we can hug at drop-off for summer camp.

“NO!” she yells from the backseat.

My husband looks at me with sadness and confusion. “What?” he asks.

“No pictures either!” More demands from The Girl.

She has been asking for over a year, with determination, confidence and glee to attend summer camp. The Girl, who is now 11, is being dropped off at sleep away camp. She will be away for seven days, sleeping in a tent in the woods.

I know the drill. She was at sleep away camp last year for three nights. When I picked her up she greeted me with, “What are you doing here?”

Last year, as we loaded her gear in the car she proclaimed her desire for a longer stay this summer, in less accommodating accomodations. She expressed her desire to stay overnight in a platform tent.

The Girl has been running ahead of me for years; on the way to school, to activities, in stores—everywhere we go. I often ask her to stop and walk with me; sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t. I can see the future like a kindergarten drawing of what I want to be when I grow-up.

She has one foot out the door into her future. Her hair is blowing in the wind. The winds of change are clear to me.

This saddened me at one time, but not anymore. I know this is my job as a parent: to prepare my daughter to thrive out there in the world.

If she wanted to stay home all the time with my husband and I, that would sadden me. I am thrilled she wants to go to sleep away camp for a week. She is taking the baby steps—on her terms—to conquer the world. It is her world as she sees it, which is much different than when I was 11 years old.

I am not sad, confused or selfish about The Girl’s desire to explore her independence. It shows me I did my job well, as a parent, which is the hardest, most rewarding job in the world.

I secretly rejoice in the achievement of sleep away camp, for both of us.

Did I miss her? Well, the house was extremely quiet, there was a lack of negotiations for ice cream every day, my social event arranging skills were able to rest and I slept more than when she is home.

I thought of her every day. I was concerned about the thunder and lightning and how the rain affected her tent. I even texted her a couple of times.

Her phone is in her bedroom.

Maybe next year she will go away for two or three weeks. I will be even more excited for The Girl.

After all, she will not be away at college—yet.


Photo: largerloves/tumblr

Editor: Dana Gornall