Story and I have had very different childhoods. I grew up in a log cabin my dad built surrounded by woods. Story has grown up in our little yellow storybook home on a cul-de-sac in a neighborhood. We had dirt roads; Story has pavement. I could visit my grandma whenever I wanted; she was only a short walk away. Story’s visits to her grandma take planning and a lot of driving and are not nearly long or often enough. My summers were spent at home exploring the woods and living the adventures of my imagination. Story’s summers are in camps, exploring what Bloomington has to offer and living the adventures of someone else’s imagination. And then our childhoods collided this past week.
Story spent the week at my parents’ house — the house I grew up in, surrounded by the same woods and experiencing the same timelessness of summer. And she was there without me.
It was the first time I had gone days without seeing or speaking to my child. The dogs did not like it at all, and when I got home from work, they spent a whole twenty minutes telling me all about how Grandma kidnapped Story and didn’t take them. There was much whining and grumbling.
I was immediately restless and called her the very next day. I told her to call me if she missed me. She didn’t. I really missed that kid! Even with the dogs’ complaining, it was too quiet here.
I finally got to pick her up Friday night, and the ungrateful miss didn’t even meet my car with her arms outstretched in need of a mom hug — certainly not fulfilling my daydreams of our reunion. She merely looked up and said, “Oh, hi, Mom.” Le sigh.
She had quite the week. She went fishing with Peepaw and caught catfish and bass. She got her own room at Brooke’s house, and they decorated it. She and Grandma made oobleck and cooked together. They went to the zoo. Story practiced her bow. She had a chance to be bored, though I’m not sure she was. She got to stay up late every night and sleep in every morning. She got to experience a bit of my childhood, and I am so grateful for that.
Story found it very difficult to leave. She’s never been good at goodbyes, but this time struck her especially hard. Before she would get in the car, she made me promise that she could stay for two weeks next summer.
This weekend was the first of our camping weekends this year. As always, it wasn’t long enough. This year, we rented a fifth wheel travel trailer that was new to our campground. It was so much more spacious and comfortable than the one we were used to and is in a much better location with a lake view and easier access to the park. It was perfect and hard to say goodbye to.
Story is growing up. I know that sounds ridiculous. Of course kids grow up. We all grow up — well, most of us. Anyway, what I mean is that she is growing in maturity. I can hear it in her choice of vocabulary. I see it in her facial expressions. I notice it in the grown-up topics she discusses and decisions she makes. I am very proud of her growing up; she is certainly growing beyond my expectations, and they are pretty high.
The other day she asked me about high-yield savings accounts — and I promptly told her to talk to Ali. She worries about how others perceive her and thinks deeply about how she can change perceptions. She shops for and makes her own lunches. She presents arguments in a logical way when she really wants something. She understands herself and her intrinsic motivations. I love all these things about her, but sometimes I wonder if she is missing out on childhood stuff. She’s only nine after all. And then something happens that helps me see the little girl she still is.
Last night, we had several tornado warnings throughout the evening. The sirens were going off. Tornadoes were confirmed on the ground. And Story was away from home. She is scared of tornadoes, so much so anytime the wind blows, she has me check the weather. I was grabbing my phone to call her, when I got a text: “Mom, can you get my tornado crate and Rocki [the bearded dragon] ready?”
A couple of years ago, Story put together a crate of her favorite stuffed animals, those that have special meaning to her. This crate has a specific function as a tornado crate. If we have a tornado warning, I am responsible for keeping Story and the animals safe, and Story is responsible for keeping the crate safe.
Story is growing up, yes. But she is still enough of a kid to worry about the safety of her stuffed animals over her own safety and that of her mom. And I’m okay with that.
Wednesday marked the last preschool graduation that Lesley and I would attend (until the girls have kids anyway), and I have to say it was the hardest. Story’s preschool graduation marked the beginning of the girls growing up, but Maddie’s marked the last of their little kidhood. They are officially all elementary schoolers. No more diapers, no more large mom bags on outings, no more naptimes, and now, no more preschool.
About a month or two ago, a co-worker brought in a case full of little blue bottles with roller caps. She had purchased them for a business endeavor that she never got around to and was hoping they would find a good home. At first, I resisted the urge to bring these little cutie bottles home. Sure, I could find something fun to do with them, but I have a cabinet full of things I could someday do something fun with. Not to mention I was purging the house at the time.