Molly returned from her 5 day school trip to Northern Ontario. This was the first extended excursion taking Molly away from us and her little sister. It was new to all of us. Having one less person around the house upset the dynamic that my wife and I have grown accustomed to.
There was an unusual calm around our house for those five days. Our pace seemed to slow…there were fewer shouting matches or tirades of drama. I even slept in a little each day because the morning routine wasn’t as rushed; only one lunch to prepare, only one breakfast to make..only one child to wake up. Annie even had the luxury of sleeping with my wife for those 4 nights while I took over her bed. “A treat” is what I kept on telling my wife; “to have a 10 year old who loves nothing more than to snuggle with her mommy in bed.” “Enjoy it while you still can”, I told her.
Molly returned on one of 4 buses last Friday. I picked up my younger daughter from school and we went to collect our Molly. While we were waiting for the buses to arrive, Annie and I had heated conversation about what kind of mood Molly would be in when she stepped off the bus. Remember, she had carte blanche for 5 days…no one to pester her, make demands on her…no one to hide expletives from…she was pretty much able to do what she pleased with her friends. I was also wondering how that was going to play out. The days leading up to the trip were filled with tears and anger as Molly was dealing with a few friends who weren’t really behaving like good friends do. She was looking forward, at that time, to getting past the trip and to the end of the school year so that next year she could start over; a new school and the hopes of finding some new friends who were going to treat her with the respect she deserves.
So, Annie and I were really wondering what exactly would step off the bus on that hot, sunny Friday afternoon.
Finally, the buses arrived…Molly’s being the last one to pull up…of course! Annie and I waited and saw other kids reunited with their loved ones…displaying various levels of emotion. Some were happy to see their families…some were luke warm, some even caught rides with other parents because their own were still at work.
Then Molly stepped off the bus. Her face, bitten by mosquitos and other flying insects..her hair, in mild disarray, no smile to be seen when she saw Annie and I waving at her. Uh-oh…she was in a foul mood, she probably had a crappy time….it was going to be a very long night.
I went over to her and kissed the top of her head (hoping nothing was going to crawl out of it). I offered to get her duffel bag, which she insisted on carrying because she had to “lug it 1200 metres to her cabin all by myself…ugh!”. I made a run for the bag when it was thrown off the bus and easily carried it 100 metres to my car trunk where I stayed, along with Annie while she said her goodbyes to her cabin/school mates.
When she made her way back to the car and finally got in, I realized that Molly was not in a bad mood after all. Tired? Yes. But not in a bad mood. In actual fact, she had had such a good time that she was quite sad and ultimately teary-eyed because she had to come back. She had experienced overnight camp life for the first time and was smitten. She went sailing, canoeing, swam in a lake…all brand new experiences to her. She did only shower once while she was gone…but knowing my daughter, probably overdosed on underarm deodorant to compensate (she likes to be clean, always!!).
After my wife and I unloaded all her laundry and aired out her stuff while she de-loused herself with a power-shower, we proceeded to spend the night at home, as a family unit, in tact once again, to hear all about her experience. Having us all together again felt good.
She spoke in detail and with passion about her experiences. She talked about the food, the cabin, her friends, the beauty of northern Ontario and about all the activities she was involved in.
A trip, that by all measures, was a huge success!! But, the best part about all trips, is coming home and even though she told us she could have stayed for another month, she slept soundly and comfortably in her own bed that night and we didn’t see her face again until 11 o’clock the following morning.
Then the bickering started all over again. Welcome home.