Welcoming Them Home

My number one, my oldest, my “big,” my first-born, the big sister arrived home on Sunday after a month at sleep-away camp. As she got off the bus, I burst into tears and so did she.

Her younger siblings pushed me out of the way so they could hug her first, and we all laughed, cried, and hugged together. I missed her so much. I knew one month ago when I put her on that bus I’d be receiving a very different girl when she got home.

Alas, her heart is the same, but her mascara, her walk, her intimacy with her friends, her confidence, and her height are different. My girl has grown. In all of the good ways. Since she returned home less than 24 hours ago, there’s been talk of boys, friend drama, counselor advice, new competitive skills, and… Hickeys. Oy. I smiled and drank her all in and enjoyed every moment.

In the hopes of basking in more of her post-camp honeymoon at home, I am devoting some blog space to a poet I frequently feature on my show @wccoradio. Tim Torkildson saw my Facebook post and wrote an ode to camp.

My little girl is back from camp; I’m merry as a grig!
It’s only been a couple weeks—but, my, she’s gotten big.
We hug and babble to each other; so much stuff to tell.
But first I have to ask her quick about her new hair gel.
Cool as any cucumber she tells me it’s a blend
favored by her new and unfamiliar camp boyfriend.
I’m holding back the yelling; I’m calm and talking quiet —
but in my heart of hearts there is a full blown prison riot.
She didn’t send me emails or postcards indicating
that this interloper she had a while been dating.
As suddenly as summer rain, we make up with a glance
when she tells me he is gone off backpacking to France.
How quickly little girls grow up — not like the little boys,
who swagger when they’re ten years old but cry at broken toys.
Next year perhaps we’ll all stay home and make a patchwork quilt
(and if I can’t persuade her nice, I’ll do it with some guilt!)

This week, I wish you kids who happily go off to camp and even more happily return home.