I am writing this post in honor of my big girl, who at this moment has been whisked away from me by her school and brought to a neighboring state for four days. It's the Nature's Classroom program, and so good for them and they have so much fun and bonding and yeah, yeah, yeah... But this is my BABY! And it's FOUR DAYS! No phone calls, no visits, nothing.
I brought her to school early on Tuesday and she gets home tomorrow at about 1:45pm. She was thrilled to be going, spending the last few days before her departure pinging off the walls, while I packed and labeled and strategized and planned and folded and purchased the few missing things from the Suggested List. ("Mom, it says here I need a robe. You need to buy me one." Ah, no. You can do without the robe. But I will buy you waterproof boots, the disposable camera and a sleeping bag.) I was a nervous wreck but only showed excitement to Michaela. Now that she's been gone a few days, the lead-up to departure was definitely worse than actually having her gone. The hardest part of having her away is that it is the only place she has stayed overnight without me that I can't visualize: I have no idea what the place looks like, who she is bunking with, what their activities are, what they are eating, all that kind of stuff. I'm sure she will return with stories and pictures galore.
Her teacher (The Thoroughly Amazing Mrs. R.) gave us some words of advice at Open House last week, including making sure your child knows where things are packed. She had a student a few years ago not realize that the warmer clothes were at the bottom of the duffel bag, so the student was cold for days unneccesarily. So as a (typical) overcorrection, I barked orders and directions to Michaela for hours before she left: "This is where the ponchos are! This is where I put your boots! Short sleeved shirts are on this side, long sleeved shirts are on this side! I labeled the sleeping bag on the end, so look for your name here! This is a zipper- grasp this rectangle and pull to open the duffel bag!" Okay, I made that last one up, but you get my point. I was pretty ridiculous. Dan just smiled and shook his head at me.
Michaela expressed her excitement about going to Nature's Classroom by punctuating every sentence she said with, "What! WHAAAAT!" at the end, said very quickly and forcefully. She used to pound herself on the chest (thump, thump) with an open palm while saying it but I banned that action pretty quickly after declaring it horrifyingly unladylike. So this is what living with her was like last week:
"Goin' to Nature's Classroom Tuesday... What! Whaaaat!"
"I hope I'm bunking with Anna... we'd have SUCH a good time! What! Whaaat!"
"What's for dinner? Tacos? I LOVE tacos! What! Whaaat!"
"No homework tonight! What! Whaaaat!"
So you get the point. Thankfully, because I am her mother and gave birth to her, I can tolerate this longer than the average bear. Plus her energy and enthusiasm for life is so infectious and endearing, I can't help but laugh as it slowly drives me crazy.
The jury is still out on whether the What! Whaaat! is better or worse than the summer's catchphrase, which was "Wait. What?" Anytime you said anything to her, that was her response.
"You have a dentist appointment next Monday."
"I said you have a dentist appointment on Monday."
It was like any time you gave her a piece of information, her brain had to stop and process it seperately from everything else that was going on around her. She said the "Wait." part much like pundits and politicians say, "Look." at the beginning of their answers when being interviewed. Authoritatively. In command.
Dan and I started answering her by saying "Wait." So we would say, "Would you like more green beans?" and she'd answer, "Wait. What?" and then we'd say back, "Wait. Do you want more green beans?" And then she'd realize she had said it again and smile.
I'm thinking it's better than what she'll be saying to us in a few years. If she's talking to us at all. Wait. What?