It’s been four weeks and one day since I last saw my daughter, and visiting day could not have come soon enough for me. There have been some perks to her being away: there’ve been no arguments between her and my son for me to referee, there’s only one carpool run each day, there’s half the amount of playdates and parties and activities to schlep around to, there’s only one picky eater to worry about every night instead of two. But the best part for me has been collecting things to bring to her on visiting day. There’s something about missing your kid that makes you want to spoil them rotten, so for the last four weeks and one day I’ve spent most of my free time trolling stores for totally ridiculous things with which to fill the backpack she said she needed. And by the way, it’s amazing how many totally ridiculous things there are out there. I found pink fake moustaches for girls, these crazy lights that you snap onto your teeth to make them glow from behind, the braces bracelets which are all the rage this summer, a snap bracelet watch, mismatched, knee-high socks from Justice, neon feather earrings, glow sticks, water balloons, card decks full of Glamour-type quizzes about the kind of girl you are, personal misters that spray your face with water when you press a button, and on and on and on. I couldn’t wait to give it all to her.
Of course, the worst heat wave in…well, ever, was going on when we reached the east coast, but whatever. A little sweat was nothing compared with missing my kid so much that it hurts. We pulled into camp at noon on the dot, and as we walked to her bunk she spotted us and ran at me full speed, and I dropped the bags I was holding and ran towards her, and we smacked into each other so hard it we almost fell down. It was just like the ending of a cheesy romantic comedy, except way better. We spent the day meeting her friends and her counselors, swimming in the pool and in the lake, eating cheesesteaks in a suffocatingly hot dining hall, and complaining that she doesn’t write to us enough.
She looked great – healthy and tanned, her light brown hair now blonde from the sun and chlorine – and she said she was having a great time, which, really, was all I was waiting to hear. She loved the stuff I got her – the feather earrings were the hit of the day, I think – and we saw her bunk (amazing how much stuff fifteen people can cram into one room), met her friends (adorable), spoke to her counselors (she’s doing great) and took lots and lots of pictures. It was the fastest four hours of my life.
When it was time to go, she cried, and I tried not to. In between sobs, she said she wished there wasn’t any visiting day, and I knew what she meant. I was used to not seeing her by now, so having her for those four short hours was almost worse than not seeing her at all. But I assured her that life at home was more boring than ever, that she’s definitely having more fun at camp, and that it’s only two weeks and six days until she comes home. My son gave her a hug and told her that he missed her face, which made us all laugh. And then, we went to the camp office and re-enrolled her for next summer. Because as much as she misses us, she desperately wants to go back, and as much as I miss her, I want her to. But only if she promises to write more.