This will be a week of catch up. Before I begin diving into all the things that I’m behind on, first a confirmation that yes, I am keeping some casual notes as I watch the Olympics. There will be Olympics posts over the next couple weeks!1

But now let’s knock out the first, and biggest, piece of catch up: the camps and birthday of two weeks ago.

As you may recall, we dropped M off at summer camp three Sundays ago. I don’t know if it says more about her or about us that we dropped her off with zero concerns. She had never been away from home for that long before. She was 90 minutes away, which isn’t far, but if you’re a nervous parent could seem like across the ocean. But she’s a pretty steady kid who loves new experiences, she was in a safe place, and she had three friends with her. And we’re not nervous parents.

We were able to send her emails during the week, but she could not respond. We could check the camp’s picture site each day and hope to catch a glimpse of M. But other than that, we had no idea how her week was going.

When I crossed the bridge to the main part of camp two Fridays, she was standing there waiting with a big grin on her face. She even gave me a hug, which she doesn’t do often.2 But she seemed excited to see me. We grabbed her bags, got in the car, and she started talking. And talking. And talking. She shared every detail of her week at camp in GREAT detail.

We made a quick stop at the lake house to drop off some supplies for the weekend and then headed home. She continued talking. Here’s what they did on Tuesday, here’s what the did on Wednesday. Here is how riding horses was. Here was what climbing the high ropes was like. Here was how dinners in the cafeteria went.

And she kept talking.

Finally, after roughly an hour and ten minutes of continuous talking, she stopped. I glanced over my shoulder and she was slumped over in the middle row. I figured she had talked herself to exhaustion and passed out.

Nope. After about 30 seconds of rest, she popped back up and started talking again. I had to laugh. Classic M, cataloging every detail of an experience and then being able to relay them all to anyone willing to listen. I heard several of these stories many times over the next few days as the family gathered and a new relative asked, “So, how was camp?”

She had a great time. They had tough weather – it was dreadfully hot a couple days, and it rained nearly three inches in three hours another day – but that didn’t interfere in too many of their scheduled activities. She made some new friends. Got along well with her cabin mates and counsellors. She tried some new things. It was a very good week.

While she was gone, she turned 12. Which means we are on the verge of big things. She starts middle school this week. Teenagedom officially starts in a year.

Over the past year we’ve begun to see some physical changes in her. She seems taller to us, although she’s still right in the middle of her class in terms of height. She’s all legs, though, so it seems like there’s a growth spurt in her future. She’s getting awfully close to passing S in height, something that should happen before the end of the year. Those clear physical markers of young kiddom are rapidly disappearing.

Emotionally and maturity-wise, she’s the classic preteen, mixing moments of absolutely maddening immaturity with others that make us proud of how independent and composed she can be. Rumor has it these swings get worse and worse over the next few years. Can anyone confirm?

As I say in each of these, M and I butt heads more than I do with either of her sisters. Some of that is birth order and our expectations for her. Some of that is because her personality is closest to mine. I’ve been trying hard to hang on to, and acknowledge to her, the moments where she makes me proud, though. And, as always, she’s the kid I have the least concerns about when I think of her long-term future. She’s independent, smart, thoughtful, and unafraid to voice her opinion. There are going to be a lot of rough patches on the road, but she’s going to land on her feet at the end.

C and L got to go to art camp while M was away. This was a three-hour, daily event taught by the mother of one of L’s best friends. C was the oldest kid there, but as our most artistic kid, she absolutely loved it. L had three of her best buddies from school in the class with her, so she had a great time, too.

On the first morning when I dropped them off, L’s three friends surrounded her and engaged in a group hug.3 C stood kind of awkwardly behind them and one of L’s buddies came over and said, “Let me give you a hug, I don’t want you to feel left out.” Loved that!

The girls had fun, brought home some fantastic artwork, and I had a few hours to myself for a week in which I could theoretically accomplish things, although I got very little done.

  1. I’m beginning this on Sunday night as I watch the coverage of swimming and gymnastics. 
  2. She’s the momma’s girl of the bunch. 
  3. This group of four is something else. They are all super athletic, super outgoing, and I have a feeling they run their grade. And all four are likely to go to the same high school. They might be running that building, too, in eight years.