Okay, so perhaps Little Miss Malia isn't exactly a different generation than her older sister -but it still felt awfully strange to be sending my SIX-YEAR-OLD off to camp earlier today!
Yes, you read that right. This year it's Malia's turn to step into the unknown world of Bible Camp. Thankfully it's only for 2 nights (Joelle's is 4 nights) but it's still hard for me to take in!
So how did I fare at the drop-off today? Well, as you may recall from last year's experience with Joelle...I didn't do so well. This experience was different in some ways but still difficult. First of all, this isn't my first time sending a kid off to camp anymore. But on the other hand, this time it's my baby. Secondly, the amount of time away is much shorter. But on the other hand, this time it's my baby. Besides, not only is she my baby but she's a whole year younger than when Joelle went away to camp for the first time.
I was actually leaving my baby girl in the middle of nowhere with complete strangers for two whole nights!! What had I gotten myself into??
When we walked up to the registration tables and got her signed up, that's when the tears started welling up in my eyes. I worked really hard to keep them at bay since I didn't want to let Malia see them. She was so excited about camp, but I think it had sunk in more for her too once we got there and she seemed really quiet and apprehensive by this point. I wanted to make sure to not be the one to prompt any tears out of her!
We took the short walk to her cabin and once I met the first of her two counsellors, I was once again SO relieved at the first impression that I got from her. Malia immediately fell in love with her and I had to give her a gentle reminder that there were lots of other girls in the cabin that were going to want some of her attention too so she couldn't hog her all to herself. :)
We set up her bed and did some wandering around outside while we waited for her cousin to show up and get settled in alongside of her. This whole time - after meeting her counsellor - Malia was nothing but smiles and excitement. It was good for me to see that. We picked up her camp t-shirt at the tuck shop (that we got for free for early registration) and she immediately wanted to put it on. I have a feeling she'll be wearing that the entire time she's there!
Once my niece finally arrived it was time for me and Joelle to leave. It was at this point that Malia seemed hesitant to let me go. She typically does not like it when I am the one to leave her. If she leaves me to go somewhere that's a different story altogether. But for ME to walk out the door and leave her behind? That doesn't usually go over very well. She started showering me with hugs and kisses and she even said a few times "I don't want you to go." But thankfully the supper bell had just rang so she was officially going to be kick-starting her camp experience. I gave her one final squeeze and told her I loved her and headed out the door. I actually fully expected her to come running out after me with tears in her eyes for "one more hug" (since she even does that at school if I'm there for anything and have to leave her). But she surprised me by not coming after me. That would've unraveled me for sure!
I tell ya, my saving grace for not bursting into tears as I left her behind in her cabin was because I was walking alongside my brother-in-law. Had it just been me and Joelle walking back to our vehicle, I surely would've been a puddled mess. I did have a few teary moments on the drive back home and then again tonight - especially at the time when I knew Malia was going to be settling in for night. And I'm sure tomorrow night will be even harder for me. Thankfully on Saturday morning at 10:30 I'll be able to see her again. I miss that beautiful face and the bright, mischevious eyes already (although Joelle is enjoying her little-sister-free sleepover with her BFF). The house feels so empty without her.
But as much as I already miss my sweet little girl, I am so proud of her for being so brave. And I am excited for the memories she has already made and the many more she is sure to make in her short time there.
But oh, I can't wait to hold her in my arms again....