Letter to Camille: 107 Months
Hello sweet Camille, my pipa, and Happy 107 months! Right now you’re off on a movie date with your Daddy, wrapping up a great weekend of swimming, horseback riding and … learning Spanish.
In the last month, we made a really big decision – one we’d been wrestling with for a few months now. We decided to move to Costa Rica for a year, beginning in August.
To be honest, you’re not too sure about this whole thing. You knew it was a possibility, and when we finally told you we’d decided to go, you burst into tears.
I understood your tears completely, but my heart was still breaking as I sat with you in the dining room and let you cry on my shoulder. One of the main reasons your Daddy and I decided to do this crazy thing is because we think it will be WONDERFUL for you. You will experience so many new things, a new culture, new language, new school. You’ll have friends from all over the globe. I have a feeling you will grow so much over this next year as your world literally expands. All the while, we’ll still have the comfort of knowing we’ll come back to the people and places we love at home after a year.
But from where you sit, the trip is mostly full of uncertainties. You’re sad about leaving your friends, and nervous about starting a new school – particularly since some of your classes will be taught entirely in Spanish. And I understand – I am nervous about the newness of it all too.
I struggled with your tears because as your mother I want to dry them. If there are obstacles or challenges in your way, my first instinct is to remove them. To make life easier and more pleasant for you. No doubt, it would be easier to just stay right here in Savannah, where life has been good to us.
But I also know there is so much value in challenge. I realize, despite my instincts, that my job as your mother is NOT to clear all obstacles, but to teach you how to break through them. Rather than removing all challenges, I need to help you overcome them. I need to help you learn that you are strong.
So in the past several weeks, your father and I have spent countless hours working out all the logistics of the move. Meanwhile, you’ve been obsessing over one particular decision – which stuffed animals to take, and which to leave here.
You LOVE stuffed animals. We are a lot alike in that respect. I clearly remember going into toy stores as a child and seeing the sweet animal faces and feeling that they really and truly needed my care. Packing for our trip is going to be difficult since we’re not planning to ship anything, so it all has to come on the plane with us. We said you could take three stuffed animals, which seemed generous to us.
But you have a different opinion. Three seems such a small number to you, and nearly every day you go back and forth on which ones you will bring. You’ve started sleeping with a different stuffed animal each night so that they all have a chance to sleep with you before you go. You’re so sure their feelings will be hurt.
You commandeered an empty cardboard box and wrote “My Costa Rica Animals Box” on it, and put three animals in it. Then you’d change your mind, take those out and put in three different ones. Repeat.
I have to laugh at all of this, because you’re putting as much energy into the “great stuffed animal dilemma” as we are into researching healthcare, banking, car rentals and insurance. Oh to be 8 years old…
Although Costa Rica has taken up most of our mental real estate in this last month, it’s not the only thing I want to write about. We also made our annual pilgrimage to Disney for Star Wars Weekend at Hollywood Studios.
Your costume request for this year was quite challenging. You wanted to be prototype Boba Fett. There are Boba Fett costumes out there, but “prototype” Boba Fett is something else. It’s the costume the movie-makers created first as they were working out the details, and no one is manufacturing this version of the costume for the public.
But your Daddy loves his girl and he loves Star Wars, so he took on the task. He found a computer program that allowed him to scale the helmet to your size, then print out template paper that could be cut, folded and glued into the helmet shape. After that, fiberglass cloth and bondo were added to give the helmet strength and stability.
It took him many, many, many months. Then he and Boo worked together on the rest of your costume, which turned out better than any of us could have hoped. Here you and Ellanor were trying on your outfits at the beach before we left for Disney.
It was great fun taking both of you around Hollywood Studios, posing for pictures with the characters and even with random people who just wanted to be photographed with you.
One highlight was getting your picture made with Jango Fett, and the way you two stared each other down for a long time before striking a pose.
But I think my favorite picture is this one with Chewbacca and Wicket.
You were SO excited to see the little ewok, and after waiting in a long line you were thrilled to give him a hug. When it was time to snap the picture, you laced your arm through his and leaned in close. There you are, in a bounty hunter costume that is designed to look powerful and aggressive, but you’re snuggled up to the ewok, looking gentle and even dainty.
That’s my girl in there, for sure. So soft and sweet on the inside.
After Star Wars Weekend it was off to cousin camp, where you had a blast with Stella and Jane, and Nana and Granddaddy of course. I absolutely love this pic of the three of you – so sassy.
The rest of our summer will be spent in a few camps here in Savannah, and then filling our down time with packing packing packing.
I sure would love to be able to see in the future and to reassure you (and myself) that this trip to Costa Rica is going to be wonderful. Who knows, at the end of a year, you may have fresh tears because you don’t want to leave your new Costa Rican friends. Or maybe you’ll be so ready to get back home. But either way, my hope is that one day, you look back on this year and see it as a gift. Leaving your comfort zone isn’t always easy, but adventure can be a marvelous teacher. I hope we will all learn so much, and best of all, we’ll learn together.
I love you so much sweet girl.