Today I sent ¾ of my children away. I do not like this. Don’t get me wrong. I like a little peace and solitude as much as the next guy but I’m just not used to watching my kids ride away from me in the big yellow school bus. It makes me feel twitchy. Unsettled. Unnerved.
Today was the first time Eve went. It just feels wrong. We have a no camp till youth group policy in this house. We’re not real big on sleepovers either; we do allow them once in a while but mostly the kids sleep at home. Also, because of the age of the girls and boys in this house we’ve always had a boys=big kids, girls= little kids way of doing things. This has worked out well so far. The thing is Eve is messing it all up by become a big kid. I did not give her permission to do this. She joined the youth group last week! WHAT? She can’t do that, she’s one of the little girls! Sigh.
It was hard to watch Will go off to camp, he was my first, but he is a boy. He was strong and independent and ready to go. Then there was Bob. Bob was ready. Bob has been an independent, i-can-do-it-mom kid since he could walk. They’re both so much like their dad; strong, independent, confident. But Eve? She’s my baby. She’s the toddler who cried her little eyes out when I left her in the church nursery and ran to me with glee when I came to get her. She is a momma’s girl. She’s my girl. My little girl.
Today I didn’t see much of that little girl. Today she did this at the thought of going away.
She went right off and sat with her friends and giggled and rolled her eyes and wore her sunglasses like all the other teenagers. But for one second I saw my vulnerable little girl. I know she’s still in there. She came over to hug me good bye (at the youth pastor’s instructions. He said that those kids who had parents there to see them off and wave at the buses would not be let on the buses without hugging their parents a proper goodbye. I LOVE this youth pastor!) Once she’d said goodbye to me, she realized her friends had gone on the bus without her and she didn’t know which bus was the Jr. High bus and which was the Sr. High bus.
That’s when I saw it. She looked nervous, unsure, apprehensive. She looked to me for the answer. I didn’t have it. I couldn’t solve it for her. I told her to go ask one of the youth leaders. She timidly walked up to one of the older teen interns to ask which bus she was to be on. He had to ask her to repeat herself because she spoke so softly. He told her and she nervously walked over to the bus and climbed those stairs all alone, the last one to get on the bus. I am sure she was wondering where she should sit. Would any of her friends have saved her a place? Would she have to sit with a big kid she didn’t know? Would she have to sit alone? For that one minute she was my little girl. I wanted to go grab her and pick her up and put her back in the car, strap her in her car seat and take her back home. Sadly, those days are long, long gone.
Suddenly I heard someone say “Eve, over here.” The cool teenager look suddenly reappeared. She hopped on the bus, went over to her friends and the giggling, eye rolling sunglass wearing pre teen was back. I know from experience that she is going to go off to camp for the first time a little girl and come back a teenager. She is going to bond with those kids and those youth leaders and grow immeasurably closer to the Lord. It is good and right, she is growing up.
We have a wonderful youth group that is mature and full of great kids that really do love the Lord and look out for one another. The big kids really do watch out for the little ones. They love the Lord and spur each other on to a better relationship with Him. I have no qualms about her being a part of this group. But what I know is that she is going to come back changed. It will be a good change, but a change nonetheless.
I watched my baby hop on that bus and I have no doubt that, that will probably be the last time I will see that little girl.