Letter to Camille: 81 Months
Happy 81 Months to you, my best girl! You’re upstairs in bed, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re tossing and turning, trying to solve a most interesting dilemma: how to best safely transport your beloved deer skull to school for show and tell? It was on your mind as we tucked you in – should it be carried in a box? A bag? The skull is small and fragile, and you cannot wait to show it to your classmates.
We discovered it a couple of weekends ago, when we spent some time with friends who have a place on a pond in rural South Carolina. It was a perfect weekend retreat, and we enjoyed many outings on a walking trail through the pines and around the water.
There’d been a big rain the previous week and the water level was high – so high that it partially covered a bridge on the trail.
“Can I try to jump over the water?” you asked me.
My initial instinct was to say no, because my initial instinct is to always protect you, and what if you missed? But I’m a helicopter mom who is trying to let go, so I said “Sure.”
Here you are, in mid-leap, moments before your shoes hit the wet bridge and slipped out from under you.
You fell on your back, soaking your shirt and your hair on a particularly cold day. We were out in the woods, a bit of a walk from the house, and you were inconsolable.
As we trudged toward the warmth of the house and the promise of dry clothes, I spotted something on the trail. A skull of some sort – we’re guessing either a small deer or dog.
When you saw it, the tears stopped. You held it in your hands like a trophy, and said, “Well, at least this makes me happy.” You walked the rest of the way to the house with a new bounce in your wet step. Funny girl.
As much as you love this skull, you still prefer communing with animals that are alive. Your love affair with horses has not dulled, and you are particularly smitten with Cassidy, the sweet mare you ride most often during your horseback riding lessons.
You are quite certain the feeling is mutual. We often bring carrots with us to the barn so we can give the horses a treat, although you usually eat half of the carrots before we get there. The other day, on the way to a lesson, you sat in the backseat crunching on a carrot and came to a conclusion. “I like carrots,” you said, “and that’s why Cassidy likes them. She likes what I like.”
You like Cassidy so much you wanted a t-shirt to prove it. Since the stores seem fresh out of Cassidy t-shirts, you improvised and made your own. You drew a picture of yourself with the horse, cut it out and taped it on a shirt. Voila!
I admire your resourcefulness!
One of the highlights of this month – rather, one of the highlights of our whole year I’m sure – was a visit from Will and Sam. They’re two of your best buddies who moved to DC a couple of years ago, but happily came with their mom to spend Spring Break with us this year.
I can’t tell you how many times you declared, “I wish Will and Sam were my brothers!”
We got to spend Easter weekend together, which I now think should be a tradition. We dyed Easter eggs at Boo’s house, and went on several egg hunts. We got dressed up for church.
And we went to the beach with a group of friends – another Easter tradition I’d like to repeat. It was sunny but windy and cool. We told you that you could just wade in the water, but soon the waves proved too enticing and you “accidentally” fell in. You kids were practically turning blue with chattering teeth, but Sam in particular could not be kept out of the surf.
We toweled you kids off and thankfully had a change of clothes, because then we were off to dinner at the Crab Shack. A perfect ending to a perfect week.
My sweet girl – this month you have made me so proud. Not because of some achievement at school or in sport. But because of your heart. As your mother, one of my greatest hopes has always been that you would grow up to be a positive force in the world. A person who thinks about more than herself, and who lifts up her fellow man.
I got little glimpses of that this month. They were small things, but they were sweet things and they showed me you’re making that mature shift from being the center of your own universe to a consideration of others.
One morning last week I came downstairs to make you breakfast, but instead found that you’d beaten me to it. Not only had you made breakfast for yourself, but you’d made mine too, even setting the table. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been in the mood for a bagel – that was the best-tasting nutella bagel I’d ever had. My favorite coffee mug sat on my placemat. “I didn’t know how to make coffee, so I put water in your favorite cup,” you explained.
One afternoon, your riding teacher let me hop up on a horse during your lesson. Each time I passed you in the ring, you were quick with a word of encouragement. “How’s she doing for you today mom? Is she being a good horse?” Or, “You’re lookin’ really good up there Mom! Nice job!”
And today, do you know how you wanted to spend your Saturday? Biking around the neighborhood, picking up trash. It was your idea, unprompted by me. Your class discussed Earth Day at school, and you wanted to do your part.
What a precious girl you are, and I feel so lucky to watch you grow into this sweet, loving, person. Thank you for being you – I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. I love you so much.