Letter to Camille: 102 Months

102 Months

Hello sweet girl and Happy New Year to you! 2015 will go down in your personal history as the first year you were awake as the clock struck midnight – though I can’t say you were particularly happy about it. But hey! You did it!
First, let me back up a moment. Christmas was wonderful, and Santa granted your request for a new bike – a much bigger bike, ideal for keeping up with Mom and Dad as we wheel around the neighborhood. 

New Christmas BikeBiking in the Neighborhood

We biked to Boo’s for lunch and gifts, biked to neighbors for an oyster roast, and had an all-around grand day.

Family Christmas Bike RideChristmas Day Oyster Roast

We spent the next few days happily hosting Nana and Granddaddy before loading up the car and heading south for a bit of January camping. Our destination was Fort Wilderness, the Disney campground in Orlando.

Orlando Bound!Campfire Chipmunk!

We didn’t have plans to visit the Disney parks, but the resorts are so packed full of activities that we didn’t feel like we were missing much. We were in the good company of friends, and pitched our tents in the middle of Disney’s “wilderness,” complete with very nice bathrooms and a heated pool and a beach and playgrounds and general Disney awesome-ness.
The only un-awesome part was the weather – chilly and rainy. But that didn’t stop you and Lola and Fletcher from biking around the campground or even swimming in the pool.

Dominos by the Pool

New Year’s Eve we took camping chairs to the beach where we’d have a clear view of the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom at midnight. Cool as that was, I knew this was going to be a tough sell for you – the girl who hates to stay up late.
Sometime around 10:30, you plopped down on my lap and cuddled in close for warmth. It was very chilly on that windswept beach, and I didn’t mind a bit when you fell asleep on me. We hadn’t packed any blankets, and all we had with us for warmth was a towel – a wet towel. I pulled it over us anyway because at least it cut the wind.

New Year's Eve Nap

A few minutes before midnight, I nudged you awake. The fireworks were simply spectacular, and even if you were too groggy to really enjoy it, I’m glad I got to see them with you.
Ah … the subject of bedtime. We spent the first several years of your life strictly enforcing bedtime rules because we all benefitted from a solid evening routine. But now that you’re older, the routine is so set that it’s hard to get you to adapt to any changes. 
For the moment, sleepovers are more difficult because you just want your buddies to be quiet and go to bed. They’d rather stay up talking and playing. I imagine as you get older this will change, but it has led to a few foiled sleepover attempts of late. 
So when it was time to send you off to Girl Scout camp last weekend, I wondered how you’d fare in a cabin full of girls who might prefer pillow fights to sleeping.

Girl Scout Camping

But thankfully you rolled with it, and seemed to have a great time despite the fact that the temperatures were in the 30s and your cabin had only screens for windows and no heat. You’re one tough cookie!

Scouting Fun

A couple of nights ago, it was my turn to read to you and tuck you in. As is our routine, we crawled into my bed for a couple of chapters of Little House on the Prairie, and then a cuddle or two after reading. You usually ask to sleep in my bed, knowing the answer will always be no. I wasn’t kidding about our strict bedtime rules – from your toddler years on, we never let you sleep with us for fear of creating a bad habit. 
But this night, as I held you, I could feel your breathing get deeper and slower as you drifted to sleep. My first impulse was to usher you off to your own bed before you were too deeply asleep to make the trip on your own.
But why? You’re no stubborn two-year-old, fighting for power in a bedtime struggle. You are my sweet 8-year-old girl, getting older by the moment, and moving toward a time when you’ll be the one staying up late. So I settled in and listened to you breathe, and enjoyed the warm weight of your head on my arm.

Sweet Snuggler

Until I coughed. Your eyes flew open, and you slid out of bed. “Ok Mama,” you said, “Time for bed.” And then you walked to your own room like the big kid you are.
Parenting is full of such contradictions – of countless evenings spent persuading your child to sleep in her own bed, and then suddenly wishing she’d stay snuggled up next to you for just a bit longer.
You’re all at once my baby and my young lady
and I love both parts of you. Always and forever.

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