And she's off!
In the past week, my sweet and sensitive 11-year-old has woken three nights in the wee hours, calling for a parent. Despite her naturally nervous temperament, this kind of waking is unusual. Last night, there was the tummy ache at bedtime, and another pain this morning at about five o'clock. It's clear she's got something on her mind, and not too tricky to work out what - tomorrow she leaves on school camp for three nights.
Our eldest is so sweet. So caring and gentle. A nervous kid, with fears ranging from characters in books to spiders and most bugs (which is unfortunate when you live in Australia, I have to say). She is also incredibly shy and anxious in new situations. She asked me the other day, "Mum, why is it you and Dad can talk to lots of people, but it's really hard for me?". Another time, when we were on holidays on a farm-stay which involved river swimming and bushwalking, she commented that..."it's fun, but there is a LOT of nature!"
We tell her all the time that she is, in fact, the bravest kid we know. School, and much of what goes with it, makes her feel very uncomfortable. But every day she goes along with a smile, many days pushing herself beyond her comfort levels. This whole idea of camp almost turns her inside out - the unknown, the social expectations, just being away for three nights. But she's packed, she's checked her list, she's even commented on how her friend at school is nervous, and she's going to help her out.
I read a book a while ago called, "Far From the Tree", by David Solomon I believe. In it, he interviews parents who have children that are vastly different to themselves in a variety of ways. I'm not for a second saying there is a great chasm between her and us, but there is difference. I'm starting to realise, however, that as we gain skills to help her, she is also teaching us so much about appreciating difference, and indeed finding real strength in places you'd least expect it.
So now it's my turn to be brave. As we see her off in the morning, I will be so full of pride and joy for her. I will no doubt fight tears, knowing how hard this is for her and seeing her do it all the same.
But for now, as we get ready for bed...let's start with the hope for a full night's sleep all around.