Alison is counting the minutes until she's back at Flatrock River Y Camp -- where she'll be bunking with a few of her oldest and newest friends, free from her parents and firmly in control of her destiny for 7 long days and nights.
We can email and writer her letters, but short of an emergency, she can't reach out to us. She's just fine with that. I, however, am betwixt and between.
She's 11 now, listening to Maroon 5 and rappers, hoping for a pair of shorty-shorts and wishing she needed a bra. All I can see is her going off to college thousands of miles away where she'll drink and experiment with boys with no thought at all of me. Or, gak!, she'll actually complain about her out-of-touch mother who she can't relate to.
You laugh, but I truly have long moments of panic over those days that are coming. I hear them in the distance like a midnight train riding country rails straight to my door
I can fret for days over her happiness level, what the sassy girls are school are doing to her, if she has enough food in her lunch and whether she'll be safe at whatever sport or activity she's involved in.
I try to hide my obsessive worry, and I think I do a fairly good job of it -- at least from her perspective. She knows I worry, but as a general rule, she's off finding pictures of cats or learning a new cupcake trick, and playing video games or being silly with her friends.
I don't remember much interaction with my mother or feeling like she had anything but random thoughts of me. Of course she had seven kids, a Pentecostal church and an Avon route to deal with. I should forgive her for her scant attention. Probably I will one day.
I wonder what's worse: benign neglect or hidden worry? Does every mother worry this much? Why can't I just be one of those people who don't worry about what's coming next? They seem to live perfectly happy lives and bad stuff doesn't happen to them very often. Maybe this week I'll figure out how to do that.
Right now I'm focused on pushing back the worry over whether Alison will fall of her horse at camp and have to be Lifelined to Indianapolis and then live life from a wheelchair. Or fall off the Alpine Tower and suffer the same fate, or worse. Or get bitten by an exotic snake that's escaped the local wackjob's farm and slithered off in search of fresh meat. Or bring home bed bugs. Or fall in love. Or smoke pot.
The possibilities are endless. I'll worry about most of them. Jeff's going to have to ply me with lots of champagne this week. Or I'll just work a lot. Maybe both.
In my head, I know my worrying will likely be for naught. She will have big fun. Jenna is going to be with her for the first time so the worst thing that will likely happen is they'll get in trouble for giggling too long after lights out. And she'll have Helen and Hannah and Alex on the campgrounds, too. Plus all the well-trained, well supervised staff. It's a safe place. A good place. I really shouldn't worry at all.
Alison's worst day at Flat Rock was the day they served biscuits and gray for breakfast (she hates biscuits and gravy so she had an apple and a bananna instead); PBandJ for lunch (she hates peanut butter so she had salad instead); and chicken pot pie for dinner (she hates chicken pot pie so she had salad again.)
"Ugh. It was the healthiest day of my life. It was AWFUL!" she reported.
Uh-oh. It's time to go. I'm going to drive slow...