Molly is headed on a grade 8 school trip to a camp up in Algonquin Park which is about 3 hours north of Toronto. She will have the opportunity to experience Ontario’s beautiful north where she will see nothing but trees, plants, wildlife, lakes and magnificent sunsets for 5 days. This will be the precursor to a two week overnight camping experience later in the summer.
While gone, she will not only be “unconnected” from technology, she will also be away from my wife and I for the first time…ever!!
I know the experience will be memorable…creating incredible moments that will be with her for the rest of her life. She will be taking responsibility for herself and not having her parents around to clean up after her, to remind her to make her bed, brush her teeth, eat a meal…to be careful.
She has been going to a day camp for a number of years..periodically staying on overnights at the camp…but never has she been away from us for this long a period.
To all of the highly experienced parents out there who are thinking that 5 days is nothing…you are right…it is nothing. But it’s something to me!
The home that we have filled with two extraordinary children, will feel different. It will have an unfamiliar kind of silence. The dynamic of siblings will be on hiatus…the bickering that exists between our two daughters will be on pause.
The constant back and forth my wife and I have with Molly over the miniutae of day to day living will be put on hold for five days. There will only be 3 of us at the dinner table.
The morning routine of going into Molly’s room with her bed completely destroyed from her “happy feet” and her clothes scattered randomly around the room will be halted (for five days she will have a well-made bed, with clothes put where they belong). The morning request of tickling her smooth-skinned back while she comes out of her sleepy haze will be temporarily suspended.
The house will definitely feel different…and while I am thrilled for the exciting time she is about to have, (both her school trip and summer camping experience in a month or so), I am also very sad. We, as a family, have never been apart from one another for any extended length of time. Sure, I have gone on the occasional overnight business trip, or my wife has gone to visit friends in London or Molly or Annie will have the occasional sleep-over at a friend’s house…this time will be different. It is Molly who is leaving our little home and venturing off into the world to create some pretty nifty memories.
On the one hand, I feel like its a bit of a break for my wife and I. One less kid to deal with, to feed, to discipline, to clean up after. But one less child to hug, kiss, talk and listen to. Here energy won’t be felt in our house. Her voice will be noticeably missing.
I know this is the start of a phase in her life where her Mom, Dad and little sister will not be the centre of her universe. She will be headed to high school in the fall for a four year stint of rapid growth and maturity. Her priorities will change, her interests will shift. She will be becoming her own person. That’s what happens…time does not stand still.
I know this won’t happen over night but there will be daily reminders that Molly isn’t the baby girl that I so easily was able to hold in my arms…or the little girl whose big beautiful brown eyes looked at me so intensely when I was holding her bottle in the middle of the night, or who used to fall asleep on my chest as I was sprawled out on the sofa on a cold, snowy day.
I am confident, however, that while she will move on to experience amazing things over the course of her life, that she will remember the days of her youth and hopefully have warmth in heart as she thinks about her mom and dad (and little sister, too!)