The Teen left for summer training this morning, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
On the one hand, I know that she’s going to have an awesome summer and experiences she could never have by any other means. She’ll make wonderful new friends and broaden her horizons while learning valuable skills. I know this.
I know this, but on the other hand, my baby is gone. She’s gone for 6 weeks, longer than we have ever been apart. More than that, I know she’ll be different when she comes home. In the absence of the comfort of her home and her family, she will become more independent, and more self assured. She will come home tanned, with sun kissed blonde streaks in her hair, and lean from full days of fresh salt air and exercise. And she will be different.
As a Canadian Sea Cadet, which the Teen joined on the stroke of her 12th birthday, doors have opened for her that we never would have imagined. Originally she joined because she liked the uniform (definitely the nicest of the three: Army, Sea, and Air) and because she was looking for something to do. She wasn’t in to dance, or art, or other so-called girlie activities, and she had just taken a hiatus from karate, which she’d been in for 6 years at that point. She wanted to get out and have some fun.
In the past 3 training years, she has been weekend camping year-round, taken tours on navy and coast guard ships, gone to summer camp each summer (3 weeks last summer), and spent a working weekend on a tall ship. She has been to England and France, and marched with her Corps before the Queen and other dignitaries for the 90th anniversary ceremonies at Vimy Ridge (north of Paris). She joined the range team, and this past season became the youngest range captain in recent memory. She also advanced to Petty Officer 2nd Class, and became the Divisional Petty Officer. She has blossomed as a leader, and a self confident young woman.
This year she was chosen to take her training at Acadia, in Halifax, N.S. We were all thrilled that she was chosen, even though in the back of my mind, I realized it would take her even further away from me.
Last night she did the bed time ritual with her little sister. They cuddled in the big blue recliner in Wee One’s bedroom, they read a book, and they talked. When she emerged, the Teen was in tears, and she simply said “I’m going to miss her so much.”
This morning there was no time for tears – it was a very early morning, with last minute running around to make sure everything she needed was packed in her duffel bag. Checked and double checked. Forbidden cell phone and charger packed away where it shouldn’t be found and confiscated. iPod packed, then unpacked and put away in her room. She will be lost without it at first, but would be devastated if anything happened to it. It’s safer at home.
The trip to the airport was, again, checking and double checking lists, reminders of “Be Good” and “Be Smart” and many many “I love yous”. She complained of butterflies in her stomach more than once. When we got to the airport, another transformation as she was accepted into the fold of cadets and officers. She lost her butterflies, and suddenly she was in her element again. She looked at me and quietly told me I should probably go, that there was no point in me standing there waiting with them. I suspect she didn’t want me to take any more pictures of her with my cell (all ruined because she ducked when she saw me pointing it at her, the brat). We had a last hug and kiss, and then my baby was on her way. As I write, she has been in the air for almost an hour.
My baby is gone. I wonder who I’ll get back, six weeks from now.